Ukraine: How Close is Close?

Can someone explain this to me?

In an election that appears to be clean, Viktor Yushchenko seems to have won the presidency of Ukraine. The vote split appears to be about 52/44, leading the New York Times to observe:

"His victory was clear, but it was not as overwhelming as voter surveys at the polls and early tallies had suggested. With the prime minister receiving more than 44 percent of the total, it was evident that a good part of the country opposed the presumptive future president.

"Moreover, the results showed a deep geographic split, with the south and the east voting for Mr. Yanukovich by wide margins.

"Mr. Yushchenko, facing a polarized electorate, must now select a cabinet and a prime minister and begin trying to forge a new, post-Kuchma identity for the country."


Here in the US, our president was elected in a contest that broke 51/48 - much closer than the Ukrainian election - with similar geographic splits. Mr. Bush views this as a mandate, "political capital" that he is going to spend.

Is Mr. Yushchenko smarter than Mr. Bush overall, or just better at math?

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