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Battle at the Ballot Box: Morality, Mortality and Bush's Victory
Unformatted Document Text:  Introduction After the 2004 presidential election, analysts speculated about why George Bush defeated John Kerry. Pundits surmised that Bush’s victory was owed to Americans’ unease over moral values combined with a widespread perception that Bush better represented traditional values than John Kerry. Further, Democrats were admonished that they were “out of touch” with mainstream values. Another line of thought accentuates Bush’s hard-line leadership style, at least rhetorically, which elevates his terrorism credentials, a concern cited by 19% of voters as their main priority on election day. Accordingly, a psychological theory gaining traction to account for Bush’s victory is the Terror Management Theory, hereinafter referred to as TMT (Becker, 1973, Pyszynski, Solomon and Greenberg, 2003). The main premise of this TMT application is that when people are reminded of imminent mortality, they subsequently become more favorably disposed to George Bush or other political figures associated with the events of September 11. Why? Leaders such as Bush are classified as charismatic meaning that they espouse broad visions rather than detailing policy initiatives (Cohen et. Al 2004). Owing to fears of death by terrorism, individuals are enticed by this political style and its messengers to assuage their anxieties about death. When images of impending mortality are manipulated, both self-identified conservatives and liberals move more from their originally reported positions into the Bush column and away from Kerry (Landau 2004).. Horrific events of 9/11 represent such a traumatic mortality remembrance that they continue to evoke fears, often prompting people to vote out of fear. On a number of palpable levels the events of 9/11 terrify. The scores of people killed violently, death by fire or being trapped, buildings crumbling before our eyes, people jumping from windows, four plane crashes including one into the Pentagon the military’s headquarters and a symbol of American might, the inability of the country to defend the Trade Towers, the spiraling loss of control over events, and the anthrax scares that lasted for weeks after the initial brutality all coalesce into one colossal threat to life which may strengthen support for Bush (Cohen et. Al 2005).. Close to two hundred studies test the implications of TMT, corroborating that manipulation of mortality fears moves a substantial number of people 1

Authors: Koch, Pamela. and Steelman, Lala.
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Introduction
After the 2004 presidential election, analysts speculated about why George Bush defeated
John Kerry. Pundits surmised that Bush’s victory was owed to Americans’ unease over moral values
combined with a widespread perception that Bush better represented traditional values than John
Kerry. Further, Democrats were admonished that they were “out of touch” with mainstream values.
Another line of thought accentuates Bush’s hard-line leadership style, at least rhetorically, which
elevates his terrorism credentials, a concern cited by 19% of voters as their main priority on election
day. Accordingly, a psychological theory gaining traction to account for Bush’s victory is the Terror
Management Theory, hereinafter referred to as TMT (Becker, 1973, Pyszynski, Solomon and
Greenberg, 2003). The main premise of this TMT application is that when people are reminded of
imminent mortality, they subsequently become more favorably disposed to George Bush or other
political figures associated with the events of September 11. Why? Leaders such as Bush are
classified as charismatic meaning that they espouse broad visions rather than detailing policy
initiatives (Cohen et. Al 2004). Owing to fears of death by terrorism, individuals are enticed by this
political style and its messengers to assuage their anxieties about death.
When images of impending mortality are manipulated, both self-identified conservatives and
liberals move more from their originally reported positions into the Bush column and away from
Kerry (Landau 2004).. Horrific events of 9/11 represent such a traumatic mortality remembrance that
they continue to evoke fears, often prompting people to vote out of fear. On a number of palpable
levels the events of 9/11 terrify. The scores of people killed violently, death by fire or being trapped,
buildings crumbling before our eyes, people jumping from windows, four plane crashes including one
into the Pentagon the military’s headquarters and a symbol of American might, the inability of the
country to defend the Trade Towers, the spiraling loss of control over events, and the anthrax scares
that lasted for weeks after the initial brutality all coalesce into one colossal threat to life which may
strengthen support for Bush (Cohen et. Al 2005).. Close to two hundred studies test the implications
of TMT, corroborating that manipulation of mortality fears moves a substantial number of people
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