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Anti-Bush sentiment firing up Democrats

Feb. 4, 2004 at 2:43 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Strong U.S. voter turnout in this week's Democratic presidential state contests reflects a broad-based antipathy of President Bush.

The mantra of electability seemed to transcend regional issues among Democrats who participated in Tuesday's polls and caucuses that gave Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a strong advantage over his contenders, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Even in South Carolina, where Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., handed Kerry his first defeat in this nomination fight, Kerry led 2-1 among voters who rated electability as the quality they cared most about in a candidate.

That advantage translates among Democrats all over the country, according to Tuesday's exit polls.

For the first time, southern, western and big-city voters were heard from; African American voters voted in large numbers for the first time, as did Hispanics.

Turnout was a record high for a Democratic primary in South Carolina and was twice the 2000 number in Arizona. Anti-Bush feeling varied a bit from place to place but was generally consistent.

"This is a party that is energized by a competitive race and regaining its political health," said Donna Brazile, manager of Al Gore's presidential campaign four years ago.

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