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Bush, Kerry hang on

As of 2 a.m. President George W. Bush was the projected winner of the 2004 presidential election.

At approximately 1 a.m., some major networks reported that Bush was victorious in Ohio, however, with 270 electoral votes needed, the president had only captured 269 (including an anticipated Ohio victory) and Kerry captured 221 votes. Bush won 28 states and Kerry won 17, including battleground state Pennsylvania.

Six states still did not declare a winner as of 2 a.m., which left 48 electoral votes up for grabs. Those states included Michigan (17), Wisconsin (10) and Iowa (7).

Several lawyers and election-rights activists, however, watched for signs of voter fraud or disenfranchisement in several states Tuesday. New lawsuits sought clearer standards to evaluate provisional ballots in Ohio.

The Kerry-Edwards campaign issued a statement on its Web site early Wednesday morning stating: “The vote count in Ohio has not been completed. There are more than 250,000 remaining votes to be counted. We believe when they are, John Kerry will win Ohio.”

The Bush campaign did not issue any statement as of 2 a.m.

President Bush jumped ahead early, winning states such as Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Kerry, coming close to the president at various points during the night, won states such as New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California and Illinois.

Bush was declared winner of Florida at about midnight with 98.2 percent of the precincts reporting 52.1 percent went to Bush and 47.1 percent went to Kerry, according to the Florida Department of State Web site. The Web site also stated that a number of major Florida counties had not yet counted their absentee ballots. These counties included Escambia, Seminole, Sarasota, Pinellas, Palm Beach, Orange, Miami-Dade, Leon, Lee, Hillsborough, Highlands, Osceola and Taylor.

Susan MacManus, USF political science professor and analyst, said Florida was not as close as some predictors had originally thought.

“The president won the I-4 corridor and a lot of rural counties that he did not capture in 2000,” MacManus said. “The president did a lot of visits in those rural areas and it proves that a candidate visit can make a difference.”

MacManus said with eyes being on Ohio, Florida for once is not in the limelight.

“We can celebrate a chad-free and butterfly ballot-free election,” MacManus said. “But it’s going to be tough for Kerry.”

John Duddy, College Democrats president, said he takes this election personally. Being able to vote in 2000 and with Bush projected as the winner, he wants to abandon the United States and move.

“The next four years in the United States are going to be catastrophic (with Bush),” Duddy said.

Matt Strenth, of the College Republicans, said he was glad to be a part of the election and that all the hard work by volunteers and supporters possibly paid off for the president.

“I am just really excited,” Strenth said. “I still believe that the president will pull out a win, it just depends on what time that happens.”

A record number of voters nationwide and in Florida flocked to the polls Tuesday, producing waits of an hour or more in some counties and states.

“The good news about this election is that it is one of the most competitive elections in history and there has not been too much disenfranchisement, as some thought there would be,” MacManus said.

MacManus said the difference with this election is that she thinks that people made up their mind before heading to the polls Tuesday.

“The real difference this time out, especially in Florida, is that by the time the election came around, people showed a clear difference on who they were voting for,” she said. “And with that came higher voter turnout.”