Americans spoke Tuesday by casting ballots and now they are speaking their minds about the results.
A supporter of Democratic Candidate John Kerry, Aisha Farooq, says she was let down by Republican President Bush's victory. Ms. Farooq complained about the election's outcome as she waited for a bus in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Virginia Square. "I am really disappointed that Kerry lost. I feel that it would have been better for the world if he had won because this war on terrorism is going to go on and on for an endless time," she said.
But the 35-year-old, who is originally from Pakistan, says the man she voted for was not the only one who lost. "It's really sad that the nation lost," she said.
But to President Bush's supporters, such as Dan Barr, the nation won when Senator Kerry conceded defeat. In Virginia on a business trip, Mr. Barr hails from Ohio, a so-called battleground state where the race for president was very close. "I think the Republicans realize that they need to bring the country together. The country feels more separated politically than it ever has been. That's probably not the case, but it feels that way today," he said.
As she watches her three-year-old daughter play in a sandbox, Mary Kalfatovic says she doesn't think the nation is as polarized as people think. She thinks the close vote is a good sign, showing that almost every state has a mix of Republicans and Democrats.
That said, today she is one disappointed Democrat. "I just think John Kerry would have been a better president. Any of the Democrats would have been a better president. We'll see what happens," she said.
Ms. Kalfatovic says she believes President Bush might lead the country differently now that he has won a second -- and final -- term in the nation's highest office. "I just hope George Bush listens now that he doesn't have to worry about being re-elected, that he'll be a better president than he was in his first term," she said. "He'll be more attentive to the rest of the world and behave in a manner that I think is a more American way of doing things."
Not everyone had the election's outcome in mind as they walked around Virginia Square. Holly Taylor, a nurse and President Bush supporter, had not yet heard that Senator Kerry had conceded defeat. "Oh, did he? Great!! Well, I'm excited!," she said.
Shivahn Newman was far from excited as she puffed on a cigarette outside the coffee shop where she works. The 24-year-old was downright depressed. "He's not the best candidate for us and so, it's just, 'What do we look for next?' It's a time of heartache for me, really 'cause it's just depressing," she said.
Regardless of their feelings about the final results, the voters in Virginia Square all expressed relief that the outcome of the 2004 election was evident the day after election night, unlike the 2000 presidential election, when the country had to wait 37 days to learn the winner.