home > archive > 2001 > this article
The impact of calling states early
By Bruce Walker
Bill Sammons' new book, At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election, is an excellent exposition of just what Tammany Hall tactics Democrats were willing to undertake in order to insure that Al Gore won the Presidency. Among other shenanigans, Sammons points out that the networks took the incredible step of calling Florida for Gore while the polls in the strongly Republican Florida Panhandle were still open and, of course, while Florida was actually too close to call.
That trick reduced voter turnout in Florida's strongly Republican panhandle and cost President Bush an additional advantage of 10,000 over Gore statewide. No gyrations of Democrat judges or lawyers could have made such a large plurality vanish, and so the ordeal of the next five weeks should have been avoided.
Florida, however, was not the only state in which those Democrat flaks laughingly called "broadcast journalists" suppressed Republican votes. Routinely the networks called very close states for Gore as soon as the polls closed, and waited hours to call states for Bush, even though he was winning the state by a landslide. The deliberately false impression was created that Gore was doing much better than expected, and Bush was struggling badly.
Although Republicans can console themselves with the reality of a vibrant and effective Bush Presidency, the liberal media's dirty tricks drew blood. Republican turnout in all of those states west of Florida was reduced. Election 2000 produced very close Presidential races in six states: Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Oregon. New Hampshire votes very early in the night, and electorate there could not have been affected by misleading projections because they vote long before most of the nation. President Bush carried New Hampshire by a narrow margin. Florida, of course, the President ended up carrying by a whisker.
The untold story is what creating the impression of a certain Gore victory did in the other four very close states. Gore ended up carrying Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, and Oregon - in each case by tiny margins. What if the election had not seemed lost for Bush? More Bush supporters would have voted in those four states, and very likely Bush would have won each state by close margins (as he did in Florida and New Hampshire).
If the President had carried Wisconsin (11 electoral votes), Iowa (7 electoral votes), New Mexico (5 electoral votes) and Oregon (7 electoral votes), then he would have won the election, even if he had ended up losing Florida. Moreover, as the President did in fact end up carrying Florida, his margin in the Electoral College would have approached a landslide: 304 electoral votes for Bush to 234. Even if the President did not carry all of those four close states he lost after the early network miscalls, he could have won without Florida by carrying Wisconsin and any of the other two states.
Beyond victory on Election Night, the angst about "faithless electors" would have been unwarranted if Bush had carried Florida and any one of those four states: One or two electors could defect, but six or seven? No. Everyone would have known with certainty who would be sworn in as President in January 2001.
The popular vote would have been affected as well, and if only 1/2 of one percent more Republican voters voted, or 1/2 of one percent of Gore voters stayed home - both easy scenarios in an election in which a Bush victory seemed impossible mid-way through the evening - then Bush, not Gore, would have gotten more popular votes.
The damage extended beyond the Presidential Election. Depressing Republican vote almost certainly cost Slade Gorton, the Republican incumbent senator from Washington, victory. Maria Cantwell's margin of victory was microscopic, and any voters who voted for Bush would have doubtless have also voted for Gorton (although not necessarily the other way around).
Republican Senate candidates also lost close races in three states where the polls were opened when the media "called" Florida for Gore, and were rushing to call as many other states as quickly as possible for the Gore. It is possible, even probable, that Republicans would have won at least one of those three Senate races in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Missouri. The early calling of states before Florida also doubtless reduced the Republican vote in Michigan and New Jersey, both states with tight Senate races.
This means that the quick draw "calling" of states for Gore
meant that the Senate ended up split 50 / 50, when it certainly would
have been at last a Republican majority of 51 / 49 and conceivably Republicans
could have won the other five close races and had a majority of 56 / 44
which would have been the largest Republican majority since the 1920s.
No matter how many Republican candidates lost, the consequence was that
Tom Daschle fifty Democrats because of gross manipulation by the broadcast
The damage to Republicans extended beyond Congress. Democrats gained one vote majorities in the Colorado and Arizona state senates, which deprived Republicans in those states the power to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Democrats also began the Washington State legislative session with one vote majorities in both legislative chambers, again political power critical because of reapportionment and redistricting.
Had Republican voter turnout been normal, then Republicans could easily
have held won an extra state legislative race in each of those three states.
What would be the impact of that? The loss of ability to control the process
in Arizona and Colorado, or to stop Democrats from controlling the process
in Washington, could easily have cost Republicans two or three seats in
the House of Representatives for the next ten years.
Bruce Walker is a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
Buy Bill Sammon's At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election from Amazon.com for only $22.36 (20% off)
© 1996-2019, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.