Robert D. Novak, nationally syndicated columnist and CNN co-host, made the misleading claim that the November 2 presidential election demonstrated the American public's approval of President George W. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. On the November 6 edition of CNN's The Capital Gang, moderator Mark Shields asked panelist Novak: "This election is an endorsement for George Bush's policy in Iraq?" Novak replied, "I think it is. I think it really is."
On the contrary, exit polling data from the election indicates that the election was not a clear endorsement of Bush's Iraq policies. While 51 percent of voters approved of the decision to go to war in Iraq and 55 percent believe Iraq is part of the war on terrorism, 52 percent of voters said the situation is progressing "badly" in Iraq and that the war has not made the United States more secure. Further, of voters who considered Iraq to be the most important issue in the election, only 26 percent voted for Bush, while 73 percent voted for Senator John Kerry.