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Residents polled on picks for president

February 29, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Asked to look ahead Saturday to November's general election, potential Maryland voters liked incumbent George W. Bush by a 2-1 margin over top Democratic challenger John Kerry.

But John Zogby and other leading pollsters have nothing to envy: The sample set in The Herald-Mail's informal survey was 10 people visiting a Hagerstown bookstore.

The idea was to ask Washington Countians to bypass Tuesday's presidential primary and jump forward in their minds to November.

Fifty people were asked the question.

Thirty-three were excluded because they lived outside the county. One Washington County woman said she hadn't made up her mind. Another woman said it's too early to make a pick.

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Other people had miscellaneous reasons for not answering.

Two replied that they already subscribe to the newspaper and walked away.

"Bush," said Anne Cox, 63, of Hagerstown. "Because I think ... he's trying to bring the country back to a conservative agenda and not (be) so radical.

"I'm very concerned about one-man, one-woman marriages and I'm very concerned that we go back to not murdering the unborn. I see them as human beings, as well. Our country is just way out."

"George Bush, because I think he's done a good job," said Tom Woodward, 48, of Boonsboro. "He handled the issues after 9/11 quite well. I think, personally, he made the right decision going into Iraq, but he's getting political pressure to pull out much quicker than we should. I like his stance on same sex marriage."

Bush recently said he supports amending the Constitution to prohibit gay and lesbian marriages.

Some survey respondents gave simple reasons for giving Bush a second term in office.

"I like ... what he stands for and I think he's an honest man," said Mary Brechbill, 64, of Big Pool.

"He's a good Christian man," said Perri Boyer, 43, of Big Pool, who is Brechbill's daughter.

"I like him," said Ryan Black, 26, of Hagerstown.

"I want to give him a chance to prove himself," said Helen Caron, 66, of Hagerstown.

Without a challenger for the Republican nomination, Bush already is set to appear on the November presidential ballot.

On the Democratic side, the field thinned when candidates Joe Lieberman, Wesley Clark and Howard Dean withdrew. Kerry has a big lead over John Edwards in the race for the party's nomination.

Maryland is one of 10 states with Democratic primaries Tuesday.

Three respondents in Saturday's survey favored Kerry.

"His policies are closest to my own beliefs," said Jennifer Muller, 34, of Saint James, south of Hagerstown.

"I just agree on a lot of his policies," said Lyn Costopoulos, 50, of Smithsburg. "I don't like the way Iraq was handled. (Bush) just went on in."

Costopoulos said the war against Iraq is the biggest factor in the election for her, but she's also worried about how many jobs are being moved out of the United States.

"I hope a Democrat can reverse that," she said.

Sandy Hoffman, 51, of Hagerstown, said she will vote for Kerry, too.

"For one thing, because I'm a Democrat and I believe in Democratic principles," she said.

"Social programs and the economy" are two big issues for her, she added.

Not everyone was on one side of the fence or the other. Anthony Giargiano, 28, of Hagerstown, is nowhere near the fence.

"I wouldn't vote for anybody, really," he said. "I don't really follow (the issues). ... The stuff that they push doesn't relate to what I think."

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