CHICAGO - Ohio resident Bob Stewart says of
President Bush: "He's been a world-class polarizer. I don't
know if I can stomach four more years with him as president. He
misled us into the war in Iraq and has mismanaged everything
A raging Democrat? No, Stewart is a Republican, one of an
unknown number of such voters who plan to back John Kerry, out
of despair over the war in Iraq and disappointment over budget
deficits and social policies.
It remains to be seen whether they can tip the scales in
hotly contested middle American states like Ohio as the
Democratic nominee courts them and battles Bush in the final
three-month dash to November's election. In past elections
defections from both parties have sometimes canceled each other
Kerry and running mate John Edwards kicked off that fight
on Friday, leaving Boston and the concluded party convention
for a two-week campaign swing across 21 states.
Stewart, 44, an insurance agent from Anderson Township near
Cincinnati, voted for Bush in 2000 and is a registered
"I just have a gut feeling that Kerry can be trusted to
make the right courageous decisions and will make a good
president. He showed that with his heroism in Vietnam," he
Bush is "supposed to be a conservative and yet he's run up
the biggest federal deficit in history. One thing that really
turned me (away from Bush) as a lifelong Catholic ... was to
see Bush go to the Vatican and try to get the pope to come down
hard on Kerry for his stand on abortion. That is absolutely
In Michigan, Dan Martin has run for local office as a
Republican. He says his biggest disappointment is that Bush's
reputation as a "compassionate, conservative" governor of Texas
hasn't proven true in the White House.
"The foreign policy is a mess. The offensive in Iraq is
reckless and built on bad decision making. On the domestic
front I understand that terrorism has struck and he's occupied
but any real progress on a domestic agenda has ground to a
halt," added Martin, 32, a customer service manager at a health
maintenance organization who lives in Rochester Hills.
In Tennessee, Brian Boland, a young music company manager
shopping at a market near Nashville, said: "I've always voted
Republican and my folks will just kill me if they find out I'm
switching to Kerry this year ... but I am just frustrated with
the way Bush has mishandled everything. All the untruths."
His wife said she too was switching. The Republicans
carried Tennessee in 2000, even though it was the home state of
Democratic nominee Al Gore.
At the same market Ron King, a black Vietnam Veteran, said:
"I always voted Republican before but I'm against Bush ever
since I found out that he doesn't love this country. His
so-called military record is a sham. And the worst part is that
he lies so much. He lied about weapons of mass destruction."
Lloyd Huff, 64, retired director of the Dayton Research
Institute in Ohio, says he has "voted for a Republican in every
presidential election I can remember" but it will be Kerry this
time because "the Bush administration has been the most
deceitful, duplicitous, secretive administration this country
has ever had."
"Going to war in Iraq was a horrible, horrible mistake," he
said. He accused Bush of "an arrogant, swaggering cowboy
mentality ... he has done more than anyone to inflame the
Muslim world by his words and actions,"
Kenneth Warren of St. Louis University, who has studied and
taught about voter behavior for three decades, said turning a
trickle into a trend will be a tough job for Kerry because
historically Republicans tend to be faithful. Democrats are
more diverse and divided, a "party of factions," and more
easily hived off, as former President Ronald Reagan did with
the "Reagan Democrats," he said.
Clay Richards, assistant director of the Polling Institute
at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, says Kerry is getting
about 11 or 12 percent of the Republican vote in Pennsylvania
and New Jersey while Bush is drawing 9 or 10 percent of his
support from Democrats, not a statistically significant
Before any Kerry draw could be rated similar to the "Reagan
Democrats" effect, he said "the gap would have to be a lot
© 2004 Reuters Ltd