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Bush leads Kerry at Tuesday's close

Nov. 3, 2004

By SANDI VILLARREAL, assistant city editor

President George W. Bush seemed was on the verge of re-election at 12:45 a.m. today, leading in the polls by 51 to 48 percent of the popular vote.

According to ABC News, the electoral college numbers showed Bush with 246 electoral votes and Sen. John Kerry with 207 at 12:32 a.m.

At 11:41 p.m., Fox News called the state of Ohio for Bush, giving him almost certain victory over Kerry, followed closely by MSNBC and NBC at 11:59 p.m.

Associated Press
Above: President George W. Bush and family sit in the White House Tuesday night watching national election coverage. As of 1 a.m. Wednesday, Bush leads Sen. John Kerry by 39 electoral votes. Right: As of 1 a.m. Wednesday, 27 states' electoral votes have gone to Bush and 16 to Kerry. Seven states' votes are too close to call.
However, other networks weren't so quick to give the state to Bush.

At 12:21, The Washington Post's analysis of the numbers -- compiled by the National Election Pool, which provided the same numbers to all the networks -- showed Bush with a 51 to 49 percent lead over Kerry with 87 percent of precincts reporting. Bush led by about 100,000 votes of the almost five million counted and an estimated 100,000 provisional ballots.

"The race is looking really close," Robert Watts, president of the College Republicans, said. "It appears that Bush has a good chance of winning, but some of the swing states could always throw a curveball."

Throughout the night, major networks were going slower than usual in predicting state outcomes so as not to repeat the same mistake made in the 2000 presidential election.

At 10:43 p.m., CBS News --- led by veteran anchor Dan Rather -- called the state of Florida for Bush, giving him a lead of 246 electoral votes to Sen. John Kerry's 199.

"It's pretty amazing, because so far, no state has voted differently than it did in 2000," Ashton Ellis, executive director of the Young Conservatives of Texas, said at that time.

Baylor Democrats were also following the race intently.

Other news outlets such as The Washington Post and Fox News were showing more conservative numbers at 11 p.m., predicting a 210 - 188 lead for Bush. However, by 11:30 p.m., they had switched Florida over to Bush's column, as well as Colorado.

"It's definitely exciting," Sean O'Neil, president of the Baylor Democrats and a Lake Jackson junior, said. "I don't think that the presidential election will be completely decided until tomorrow or the next day."

Other students agreed, saying the race would probably be too close to make a clear determination.

"I think it's too close to call the presidential race, but Kerry has seen the exit polls and looked very uneasy on television interviews this afternoon, so Bush may have the upper-hand," Mike Hefer, a The Woodlands senior, said earlier in the afternoon.

Some said challenges are imminent in this close presidential election as absentee ballots continued to stream in from overseas and across the country under the watchful eyes of 20,000 lawyers.

"It will make a huge difference in the amount of lawsuits if it's unclear who Ohio goes to. Otherwise, I doubt they'll go forward with legal action," Dr. Dwight Allman, associate professor of political science, said. "I agree with those who have called it the most important election in history. We have a whole slew of big issues ... involvement in Iraq, struggle with fundamental Islam and a host of domestic issues."

Dr. Karla Leeper, acting chairperson and associate professor of communication studies, said a large part of determining the election will be to see how the absentee ballot count turns out.

"The big question in the presidential race is going to be absentee ballots and provisional ballots. Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio all have different problems," Leeper said. "The Secretary of State in Florida said all their votes probably won't be counted until Thursday. It's going to depend on how close the regular popular vote is and how much the absentee ballots could make a difference."

While a record number of American citizens turned out to vote in this election, some Baylor students said they didn't agree with either candidate.

"I voted for Kerry, but I feel that neither candidate actually embodies what America needs at the moment," Adolfo Flores, an El Paso freshman, said. "America needs a strong president, and neither of these men fill that role."

Bush voted Tuesday morning in Crawford after flying into Texas State Technical College Waco Airport. After voting, the President boarded Air Force One back to Washington, D.C. to watch election results at the White House with his family.