Bush romped here, as expected. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R) easily won a fourth term, beating Wayne Sowell (D). All seven of the state's House members (five are Republicans, two are Democrats) were reelected.
Bush comfortably bested Kerry in Arkansas, where polls showing a close race prompted a burst of campaign ads by both camps and a return to his home state by former president Bill Clinton last weekend to campaign for Kerry. Bush, who won the state in 2000, had 54 percent to Kerry's 45 percent.
At the same time, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) cruised to victory over Republican Jim Holt. Arkansas voters also reelected their four representatives and passed a resolution against same-sex marriage.
Bush triumphed, as did the Republican nominee for Senate. Rep. Johnny Isakson trounced Rep. Denise L. Majette (D), 58 percent to 39 percent, to succeed Democrat Zell Miller, who is retiring. The state has long been tilting toward the Republicans, and Miller, a lifelong Democrat, was widely applauded there for endorsing Bush.
In a closely watched House rematch, Rep. Jim Marshall (D) trounced Calder Clay (R). John Barrow (D), an Athens-Clarke County commissioner, narrowly unseated Rep. Max Burns (R).
State Sen. Tom Price (R) was unopposed for Isakson's House seat, and former representative Cynthia McKinney (D) took back the House seat from which Majette ousted her in 2002. Lynne Westmoreland (R) defeated Democrat Silvia Delama to succeed Mac Collins (R), who lost the GOP Senate nomination to Isakson.
The state also voted against same-sex marriages and civil unions.
The Sunshine State was not the Cliffhanger State this time. After recounts, Bush won Florida by 537 votes in 2000. This time he led by more than 300,000 as ballots were still being counted, topping Kerry 52 percent to 47 percent. And independent Ralph Nader was not a factor, winning just 32,000 votes, or less than half a percent.
Worries about widespread voter-suppression efforts appear not to have materialized. Turnout set a record: More than 7 million people voted this time, compared with the 5.7 million who turned out in 2000.
The squeaker was the race for the Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham (D), who is retiring: Former housing secretary Mel R. Martinez (R) edged out Betty Castor (D), the former president of the University of South Florida. With Castor's concession yesterday, Martinez becomes the first Cuban American in the Senate.
Martinez resigned from the Bush Cabinet to take on Castor, who tried to cast herself as the logical successor to fellow Democrat Graham, a former Florida governor. Martinez was backed by the Bush White House, the Republican establishment and the president's brother Jeb, Florida's governor.
Floridians also passed ballot initiatives to require that a parent or guardian be notified in advance of a minor's decision to have an abortion, protect the rights of claimants in medical liability lawsuits to receive a large portion of any settlement, and create a Florida minimum wage of $6.15 an hour.
Bush took the Bluegrass State running away, 60 percent to 40 percent. Sen. Jim Bunning (R) narrowly defeated state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo (D), 51 percent to 49 percent. Bunning, a Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, faced allegations that he was mentally unfit for office after comparing Mongiardo to a son of Saddam Hussein, charging that his wife had been attacked by Mongiardo's staffers and breaking several rules in their only televised debate. In the waning days of the campaign, Bunning hawked his conservative credentials and was helped to victory by Bush's strong showing at the top of the ticket.
In the neck-and-neck battle for the House seat vacated by Rep. Ken Lucas (D), former newscaster Nick Clooney (D), the father of actor George Clooney, lost to Geoff Davis (R), a manufacturing consultant, 55 percent to 45 percent. That contest had gained national attention and was one of the country's most expensive House races, largely because celebrities contributed to the Clooney campaign.