This article examines the 2004 presidential campaign by examining the trinity of fundamentals that have historically affected presidential elections and how they played out in this years campaign. The three fundamentals are public opinion about the in-party and candidates before the campaign gets underway, the state of the pre-campaign economy, and incumbency (both personal and party-term incumbency). They are assessed for elections since 1948 and in one case since 1868. The first two of these fundamentals slightly favored President Bush and the third (an incumbent seeking a second party-term) strongly favored him. The analysis considers how the fundamentals interplayed with voter assessments of candidate qualities, issues, and ideology to lead to the closely fought Bush re-election. After all is said and done, after considering the impact of the war on terror and in Iraq, the election turned out much as one would have expected based on candidates ideological positions. The 2004 election added another case to the string of presidential losses by liberal northern Democrats since 1968.
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