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Bush on verge of re-election to White House
Updated: 2004-11-03 15:02

US President Bush moved to the verge of victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry and re-election to a second term in the White House on Tuesday, but questions over provisional ballots in Ohio threatened to delay a final verdict.

Barney, pet terrier of the U.S. first family, walks away from a group picture of the Bush family including U.S. President George W. Bush (L) as they watch the election results of the 2004 presidential election in the West Sitting Hall of the White House residence November 2, 2004. Members of his family are (L-R) daughter Barbara Bush, first lady Laura Bush, father and former President George Bush, first lady Barbara Bush, sister Doro, sister-in-law Maria Bush, brother Neil and family friend Lois Betts. [Reuters]
Two television networks projected Bush would win Ohio, but three others did not and Kerry campaign aides said they would not concede the state until all votes, including an unknown number of provisional ballots, were counted.

Without a win in Ohio, Kerry would need to win Nevada, a state won by Bush in 2000, and hold all of the remaining states won by Democrat Al Gore in 2000 to manage a 269-269 electoral tie.

That would throw the race to the Republican-led House of Representatives, where Bush would be almost certain to win.

Bush captured Florida, the biggest of the toss-up battleground states, and rolled up wins across the country to move to the edge of victory. Kerry won Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes but New Hampshire was the only state won by Bush in the bitter 2000 election that he had captured.

Candidate Electoral States Won
Bush (R) 249 27
Kerry (D) 242 19
Heavy turnout was reported nationwide and few major voting glitches were recorded in the final act of a presidential campaign marked by deep divisions between Bush and Kerry over the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism and the economy.

Dire predictions of voter challenges and election chaos mostly did not come true in an election where turnout was expected to sail well past the 105 million Americans who voted in 2000.

With 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, Bush had captured 28 states with 269 electoral votes if Ohio was counted in his column. Kerry won 15 states and 207 votes.

Among the remaining battleground states still to be decided at 1 a.m. EST were Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Iowa, Hawaii and New Mexico.

Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said in a statement that "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."

Supporters of US Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., watch election returns at Pennsylvania Democratic Party election night headquarters in Philadelphia Tuesday Nov. 2, 2004.  [AP Photo]
An unknown number of those votes were provisional ballots issued to voters when their registration was challenged. Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said those votes would not be counted for 11 days.

"If the number of votes that make up the difference between the two candidates is fewer than the number of provisional ballots, then I would say everybody should just take a deep breath and relax because we're not going to start counting those ballots until the 11th day after the election," he said on CNN.

Bush's projected win in Florida, where his brother Jeb is governor, gave him a giant boost in his bid for re-election and added 27 electoral votes to his column.

Voters also were deciding which party holds power in Congress and will vote on governorships in 11 states, with Bush's Republicans retaining control of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Republicans picked up Senate seats in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, and Democrats picked up seats in Illinois and Colorado.


A few disputes broke out in key swing states as officials began to count ballots. A Philadelphia judge blocked the counting of up to 12,000 absentee ballots in the city until he holds a hearing on Wednesday after a complaint brought by the Republican Party.

Supporters of U.S. President George W. Bush call for four more years in Washington, November 2, 2004. [Reuters]
Thousands of people were still in line waiting to vote more than two hours after the polls closed in Ohio, and officials said they would be allowed to stay in line as long as they were there at closing time.

Bush won one-time battlegrounds like West Virginia, Arizona and Missouri and Kerry took New Jersey while both candidates scored a series of wins in states where they were prohibitive favorites.

Bush and Kerry cast votes in their home states of Texas and Massachusetts, respectively, earlier in the day then settled in for a long night of watching and waiting. Bush, who watched the results in the White House with his family, including his father, former President Bush, said he was confident of victory.

"We're very upbeat, thank you," Bush told reporters. "I believe I will win."

Kerry, watching the results in his hometown of Boston, did not make an appearance before reporters but sent out aides to predict a win.

Officials in Florida, site of the bitterly disputed 2000 recount that ultimately handed the White House to Bush, reported long lines but no early voting problems. In Ohio, Republicans backed away from threats to challenge voter qualifications inside polling stations.

U.S. oil prices rebounded sharply from early lows on speculation that Bush would win re-election.

The lingering bitterness over that election, when Bush lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore but narrowly won the Electoral College after the U.S. Supreme Court stopped a vote recount in Florida, fueled Democratic get-out-the vote efforts this year.

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