Kansas City, Mo. With notable consistency across gender, income and age groups, Kansans translated their satisfaction with President Bush and the decision for war with Iraq into votes for the Republican incumbent Tuesday.
Republicans made up about half of those who went to the polls, and Bush captured all but a handful of their votes, according to an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press. He edged Democrat John Kerry among the roughly one-fifth who called themselves independent or members of other parties.
Bush even took about one in six votes cast by Democrats, who accounted for less than a third of all Kansas voters.
The president's margins mirrored Kansans' comfort with his job performance and their ratings of their own financial situations. About two-thirds of all voters said they approved of the way he was handling his job, with a similar number approving of the U.S. decision to go to war.
Most also said their families' financial situations were unchanged or had improved from four years ago, according to the poll of 654 Kansas voters conducted for AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 6 percentage points, higher for subgroups.
"I feel he's done a fairly good job up to this point," said Bush voter Joshua Cathey, 22, who is studying physics and German at Washburn University in Topeka. "I just feel more comfortable with him."
His fellow Democrats aside, Kerry prevailed with just one other group: the roughly one-fourth of voters whose financial situations have worsened since 2000.
"I'm worse off than I was four years ago. I think I should give someone else a chance," said Diane Macheda, 52, a tax examiner from Overland Park. "Some of the things this administration has done have scared me."
The prospect of change -- rather than support for the Democratic challenger -- drove a majority of those who voted for Kerry. Only one-fourth of Kerry's voters said they voted mainly for the Massachusetts senator, while more than half said they were voting against Bush.
"We need a change. I don't like the way things are going," said Topeka voter Margaret Dahlstrom, a 78-year-old retired nurse.