USA. According to
CountryAAH, the election year began with the primary elections
ahead of the November presidential elections. President
George W. Bush had no serious challenger among Republicans,
but there were a number of candidates in the Democratic
starting field. Somewhat unexpectedly, former Vermont
Governor Howard Dean had sailed as the strongest name. Dean,
who belongs to the Democrats' left wing, had in a relatively
short time managed to get extremely enthusiastic support
from many directions, much through the effective use of the
Internet. However, when the first party was held in Iowa and
New Hampshire in January, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry
convincingly prevailed. When he then took home 16 of the 18
primary elections held in February, the matter was basically
decided, and with "Super Tuesday" in March, Kerry definitely
secured his nomination. The election of Kerry turned out to
be a strategic move by the Democrats - he was not a big
favorite for many, but was considered to have the best
chance of defeating Bush. Kerry appointed John Edwards, the
senator in South Carolina, as his vice presidential
During the fall, Bush and Kerry were evenly balanced.
Many felt that the electoral movement showed a significant
polarization in American politics. There was a strong
commitment to Bush, not least because of his efforts in
Iraq. The critics also objected to the way in which the war
against terror was handled, which the White House took as
revenue for restrictions on civil rights and for unilateral
action internationally. Many in the domestic politics were
worried about increased economic gaps and far-reaching
deterioration in welfare as a result of large tax cuts. The
supporters found Bush's promises of tough grip on terrorists
and for the freedom and democracy of the world reassuring.
In addition, his values conservative messages resonated
with large sections of the population.
Bush won the presidential election even though voter
turnout was high (about 60%), which is generally considered
to favor Democrats. Republicans succeeded in mobilizing
large groups of conservative Christians - in all eleven
states that, on Election Day, also publicly voted on the
issue of allowing marriage for homosexuals, the answer was
no. Bush took home 286 of the electoral votes against
Kerry's 252. Unlike in the 2000 elections, he also had the
support of a majority of voters, 51% against 48% for Kerry.
Republicans also strengthened their dominance in Congress.
In the Senate, they received four additional seats, giving a
total of 55 out of 100. In the House of Representatives, an
increase of three gave a comfortable majority with 232 of
the 435 seats. One of the election's major losers was Senate
Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who was not re-elected. New
minority leader became Nevada senator Harry Reid.
After the election, Bush replaced 9 of 15 ministers.
Among other things, former security adviser Condoleezza Rice
became new Foreign Minister after Colin Powell, and Alberto
Gonzales replaced John Ashcroft as Minister of Justice. The
military operation in Iraq continued without any solution in
sight. The security situation soon became worse; the armed
resistance continued even after an Iraqi government was set
up at the turn of the year.
Bush decided in December to increase the number of
soldiers from 138,000 to 150,000 ahead of the elections
promised in Iraq in January. At the beginning of the year,
the world was shocked by photographs of Iraqi prisoners in
the Abu Ghurayb prison in Baghdad, who were subjected to
sexual humiliation and other abuses by American soldiers.
Prosecution was brought against a number of those involved
and several were sentenced to prison. However, no
high-ranking political or military leaders were held
responsible for the abuses.
The tone hardened during the year against Iran, which
together with Iraq and North Korea were included in the
"axis of evil" that Bush defined after the terrorist attack
in 2001. The United States accused Iran of having plans to
develop nuclear weapons. Washington doubted an Iranian
pledge to stop enriching uranium, which the three largest EU
countries negotiated at the end of the year. The US
leadership was also skeptical of the IAEA nuclear agency and
critical of its chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Many considered
that the development was similar to that which led to the
invasion of Iraq in 2003. See
A commission appointed to investigate what preceded the
September 2001 attack on the United States presented a
critical final report in July. It pointed to the lack of
coordination and bureaucratic hassle of the country's
intelligence services. The CIA was also criticized for
incorrect data on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Following a recommendation from the Commission, Bush decided
in December to appoint a national security chief in charge
of 15 spy organizations, including the CIA and the FBI.