This is not a Bush/Kerry thing. Don't make it into one.
When you're voting for people, do you try and run a straight party ticket? Do you think that even if voting all Republican or all Democrat doesn't select the best people for the job, you'll do it anyway just so your party gets more people in wherever? For example, suppose you really hate Bush, but are generally very conservative. Would you vote for Bush, just so he would support your conservative ideals in the Senate, or would you vote who you actually wanted, maybe Nadar or the Libertarian guy whose name escapes me, knowing Kerry would most likely win and promote a liberal agenda you don't agree with?
In some cases, like this year's presidential election, most conservatives are going to vote for Bush and most liberals are going to vote for Kerry, even if they don't completely agree with either candidate, but only because the election is undoubtedly going to be very close and most people would prefer one of the two over the other. It's the reason I'm voting for who I am voting for, even if I don't completely agree with him.
However, for my state senator, I'm voting for a person of the opposite party. Both of the candidates are trying to run a veteran campaign trying to show who would treat veterans better. One is an incumbent, of the party of my choice for president. The other is a veteran, but of the opposite party. Since they're arguing about who can treat veterans better, the actual veteran wins my vote by default.
Another thing we are voting on in Arkansas this year is Amendment 3 which would ban homosexual marriage. There is no way that the amendment will fail. Gay marriage will undoubtedly be banned after November 2nd in Arkansas, so I'm choosing not to trouble myself with decided and I'm abstaining from that vote.
As far as any other elections go, I'm going to simply abstain from elections in which I know nothing about either candidate, but I'm going to try learning as much as I can about all the people who are up for election.
Depends on the situation. I vote for the candidate I want whenever I feel I can, but there have been times where I voted tactically, where I voted against someone rather than for someone. I don't feel bad about that either, because I refuse to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
Here's an example from the current electoral cycle. I was a Dean supporter. He's the first politician I ever gave money to, first politician I ever put a bumpersticker on my car for, you name it. If I were voting for the man I truly want to be the next president, I'd be writing in Dean's name on November 2. But I'm voting for Kerry, even though I live in California, and he's going to win walking away here.
Now, do I believe that Kerry is the best man for the job of everyone on the ballot? Sure I do. I don't think he's the best person overall, but he's the best on the ballot. But I'm voting as much against Bush as I am for Kerry. I'm voting tactically in that even though I could write in Dean's name and Kerry would still win California, I want Kerry to win both the electoral college and the popular vote, so there's no talk of Kerry having stolen the election. And I want that margin as large as possible, so we can talk about a Kerry mandate next year.
That's probably more of an answer than you were looking for, but there it is. :D