New York Times veteran political reporter Robin Toner reflected on the 2004 Election and the American political landscape last night (Nov. 29, 2004) as a guest in the President’s Forum lecture series offered by HWS President Mark D. Gearan. Toner discussed several emerging theories suggesting why President George W. Bush comfortably won the election, including points about Senator John Kerry’s aversion to directly addressing issues concerning moral values and the negative effect that demographics played on the “Northeastern Democrat” who failed to capture the hearts of the South.
While Toner reflected on such theories she also stressed that American voters should not be placed into such “demographic boxes.” Understanding the voters’ choice is not as simple as splitting America into Red and Blue states, she said.
Based on the exit polls Toner believes the war in Iraq was the most compelling influence in the voters’ choice. In war time it is hard to vote out the incumbent, Toner said.
The Bush campaign successfully communicated their campaign themes, she noted including staying solidly on message about the economy and the war. She stressed the power in Washington, D.C. that the Republican Party holds now controlling the Senate and House as well as having the capability of reconfiguring the Supreme Court.
In this election, she was inspired by the American voters who seemed more passionate, fired up and intense. “This was a serious election for serious times,” Toner said.
Toner's talk was featured in the Nov. 30 Finger Lakes Times. The article also quoted Professor of Political Science Craig Rimmerman, who questioned Toner about the media's coverage of the current war in Iraq.