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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Economy to shape Bush's '04 campaign

Though the Iraqi war and the war on terror have been the major efforts of the Bush administration, experts predict other factors will determine who wins the 2004 presidential election. Mainly, President Bush, like his father, faces the challenge of winning with an uncertain economy. 




\In general, in American history, elections are decided by domestic affairs and not international,"" said UW-Madison history Professor John Sharpless, who is doing preliminary work on a book about the Bush doctrine.  




Sharpless said Bush's solution to the economy's status, tax cuts, are risky. He said people want new ideas to fix the economy's problems, which include a large number of states nearing bankruptcy and a lack of jobs. 




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The lack of jobs will be the most important economic issue in the election, according to Dennis Winters, vice president and director of research at NorthStar Economics, Inc., 510 Charmany Dr., a Madison-based consulting and research firm. 




""It's gonna be how many people are out of work and if they can pay the bills,"" Winters said. 




Winters said Bush faces a similar challenge as his father's bid for reelection, but the two cases are also very different because the economic cycle is in two different periods. Winters said he hopes the economy will be coming out of a recession instead of going into one like in 1992.  




Even if that is the case, Winters said the economy would still be more important than Bush's military efforts.  




""As the senior Bush did, you can come off a military victory and the voter's memory is short on that,"" Winters said. ""They want to find out what you've done in the last year or six months, and how my pocketbook's looking."" 




The media's coverage of the economic situation could also play a very important role in the election, according to UW-Madison political science Professor Katherine Walsh. In addition, coverage of the rebuilding of Iraq could also affect Bush's popularity. 




""There's a variety of things for the media to be critical of,"" Walsh said. ""It's very possible [the high approval ratings] won't last long."" 




The coverage hasn't lowered Bush's approval ratings yet. A Gallup poll released May 1 showed a 70 percent approval rating for the president. 




Yet another important factor in the election will be security issues relating to Sept. 11, 2001, according to Sharpless. He said the terrorist attacks might affect election trends, as they did for the off-year elections.  




Despite not being the decisive factor in the election, Sharpless said Bush's international relations will still play a large role in his legacy. 




""The long run history of this administration, I think, will be embedded in foreign policy,"" Sharpless said.

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