The first myth: Many more churchgoing voters flocked to the polls this year, driven by the Bush "moral values" and the gay marriage referendum.
Second myth: The Bush campaign won by mobilizing GOP strongholds and suppressing turnout in Democratic areas.
Third myth: A wave of newly registered Republican voters in fast-growing rural and exurban areas carried Bush to victory.
Fourth myth: Republicans ran a superior, volunteer-driven mobilization effort.
The reason Kerry lost the election had much more to do with the war in Iraq and terrorism than the political ground war in Ohio. Terrorism trumped other issues at the polls -- including moral values -- and anxious voters tended to side with Bush.
• By 54 percent to 41 percent, voters decided that Americans are now safer from terrorist threats than four years ago, national exit polls said.
• By 55 percent to 42 percent, voters accepted Bush's view that Iraq is a part of the war on terrorism. By 51 percent to 45 percent, they still approved of the decision to go to war (though a majority expressed concerns about how the war is going).
• Just 40 percent said they trusted Kerry to do a good job handling the war on terrorism, compared with 58 percent who felt that way about the president.
The Bush campaign was able to persuade some voters who supported Gore in 2000 to turn to Bush in 2004 on the issues of terrorism, strength and leadership. Bush bested Kerry among those who voted in 2000 by five percentage points -- Bush bested Gore in 2000 by three points.
The other major factor was our side's failure to win the economic debate. Despite an economy that was not delivering for many working people in Ohio, the exit poll results show that voters in Ohio did not see Kerry providing a clear alternative. Just 45 percent expressed confidence that Kerry could handle the economy, compared with Bush's 49 percent.
The GOP put on a strong mobilization effort, but that's not what tipped the Ohio election. They did not turn Gore voters into Bush voters by offering a ride to the polls. Instead, it was skillful exploitation of public concern over terrorism by the Bush team -- coupled with Democrats' inability to draw clear, powerful contrasts on the economy and health care -- that pushed Bush over the finish line.