Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Kerry coasts on anger over Bush

AP , WASHINGTON

The Democratic voters who rallied around Senator John Kerry on Super Tuesday were worried about the economy, angry at President George W. Bush and hungry for victory in November, exit polls found.

Kerry's main rival, John Edwards, made foreign trade and its effect on jobs a centerpiece of his campaign and he clearly hit a chord with Democratic voters, a majority of whom said foreign trade was more likely to take jobs from their state. Nonetheless, Kerry won six of 10 in that group.

About one-third of all voters put the highest priority on a candidate's ability to beat Bush. Other qualities viewed as important by voters in earlier primaries and caucuses did not fare as well, such as a candidate who cares about people like them and a candidate who stands up for what he believes in.

Kerry handily beat Edwards among that group, winning four of five voters who said electability was the most important quality.

The combination of anger at Bush and worries about the economy helped focus Democrats on finding a candidate they thought could win.

About a third of the voters said the economy and jobs were the top issues in the election, far outpacing other issues such as healthcare and the war with Iraq, according to exit polls conducted Tuesday. A majority of voters, about six in 10, said they were convinced foreign trade was more likely to take jobs from their states, while only two in 10 said they thought foreign trade would add jobs to their states.

The exit polls were conducted in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. Caucuses were held in Minnesota, but no exit poll was conducted there.

Economic concerns were also reflected in the way people viewed their own financial situations. Almost four in 10 said they were worse off financially than they were four years ago, and almost that many said their financial situation was about the same.

About half the voters said they were angry at the president and another third said they were dissatisfied with him, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

The exit polls showed very different opinions about gay marriage among the Democratic primary voters, depending on the state. Almost four in 10 of all voters said they thought gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, three in 10 said they should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry, while almost that many said there should be no legal recognition of gay couples.

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