Not far from the Texas ranch of George W. Bush after the November election, a sign at First Baptist Church read, "Crawford, Texas, home of President George W. Bush, Maybe." For the next few weeks, the eight words of First Baptist pastor Mike Murphy condensed countless hopes and fears of 276 million Americans concerning the election. In the end, Bush's victory in Florida over Vice President Al Gore gave him the Electoral College, but not the national popular vote.

In early December, though, Florida's Christian conservative politicians, known in the state legislature as the "God squad," had developed a behind-the-scenes plan to turn maybe into certainty. Led by House Speaker Tom Feeney, Religious Right legislators had tangled in times past with the Florida Supreme Court over school choice, abortion, racial quotas, the death penalty, and the teaching of yoga in public schools. So, in the face of the state court's early rulings for Gore, Feeney declared, "The House is prepared to act."

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida election recounts were unconstitutional and brought the election struggle to a close. Gore then conceded the election.

Bush's victory is clear, but his mandate is far from certain. This unsettling reality is due to the type of campaign he ran as well as the difficulty of leading a divided country.

Solid support During his presidential campaign, Bush rode a powerful wave of Republican dominance in Texas as his springboard to national office. Bush campaign manager Karl Rove contrasted Bush's success with the days when "in east Texas, they said they hunted Republicans." One of the keys to Bush's victory was his solid base of support from evangelicals. They cast over one of three votes that Bush received, ...

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