By Jaci Schneider, Opinion Editor
Many Americans thought the 2004 presidential election would be drawn out for months as it was in 2000, but by Wednesday morning, the country knew that President George W. Bush would serve four more years in the White House.
“I was afraid it was going to be a repeat of the last election,” said Becca Lemons, junior speech-language pathology major from Houston. “I was relieved that it didn’t take that long.”
By Wednesday morning, Bush had won 274 of the electoral votes; he needed 270 to defeat his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Kerry won 48 percent of the popular vote to Bush’s 51 percent, or 3.5 million votes.
“I’m not surprised at all that Bush won,” said Dr. Caron Gentry, associate professor of political science. “But I was surprised that it was so short.”
Ohio, with its 20 electoral votes, became the deciding state in the election Tuesday night. Although talk spread that Kerry would send lawyers to Ohio to contest Bush’s win, he called Bush to concede Wednesday morning and made a concession speech later that day.
“It’s good that we make sure every vote gets counted,” said Andrea Gallman, junior history major from Sugarland. “Kerry could have waited longer and stretched it out a bit, but that would have prolonged the insanity.”
As of Thursday, New Mexico, with 5 electoral votes, and Iowa, with 7 electoral votes, had not been called for either candidate. However, New Mexico will most likely go to Bush.
“It’s more Republican than ever,” said Chelsea Heard, sophomore elementary education major from Albuquerque, N.M. “I’m excited that it’s going for Bush.”
A larger percentage of voters cast their ballots in this election than in any election since 1968, according to cnn.com. About 120 million people voted Tuesday, just under 60 percent of eligible voters.
Gentry said she thinks people could tell it was going to be a close race.
“We have a fairly polarized nation,” she said. “People could tell it was going to be a close one.”
Heard said because people have friends and relatives overseas, they were reminded of their responsibility to vote.
“I think that probably because of the war right now, it hits home a lot more that we have the freedom to vote,” Heard said.
In the U.S. Senate and House of Representative races, the Republican Party gained ground over the Democrats with four seats in the Senate and four seats in the House, with three still undecided Wednesday.
“It will be a good thing because I think it’s better when you have a Republican president and House and Senate,” Heard said. “It’s easier to get important stuff passed when there’s not so much political stuff to go through.”