Voters and Values in the 2004 Election

G. Langer
2005 Public Opinion Quarterly  
A poorly devised exit poll question undermined meaningful analysis of voters' concerns in the 2004 presidential election. Twenty-two percent of voters picked "moral values" from a list of "issues" describing what mattered most in their vote, more than selected any other item. Various commentators have misinterpreted this single data point to conclude that moral values are an ascendant political issue and to credit conservative Christian groups with turning George W. Bush's popular vote defeat
more » ... pular vote defeat in 2000 into his three million-vote margin of victory in 2004. We suggest, rather, that while morals and values are critical in informing political judgments, they represent personal characteristics and ill-defined policy preferences far more than any discrete political issue. First by conflating morals and values and then by further conflating characteristics and issues, the exit poll's "issues" list dis-
doi:10.1093/poq/nfi060 fatcat:so6c7vg4yjcdbihqjixbigmm3q