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FOGGY MTN. BREAKDOWN - 2004
Or How the South Rose (and (some of it) Done Fell) Again
The first thing to note about the 2004 presidential election results, at least those so far tabulated as of November 8, 2004, (prior to the counting of the 155,000 provisional ballots outstanding in Ohio, some 18,000 additional provisional ballots in New Mexico, etc.), is that plainly the South was the sine qua non for the victory to the incumbent, both as to the small presumptive electoral victory and the relatively small popular vote victory, small at least by comparison historically to other presidential elections, especially incumbents' runs which, most usually, if resulting in victory at all, produce substantial margins.
The total popular vote was 59,459,765 or 51.34% for the incumbent and 55,949,407 or 48.31% for the challenger, a margin of 3,510,358. That puts the election as the tenth closest in the 55 presidential contests in the country's history, the closest victory ever for an incumbent.
In the 14 Southern states, (Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., Ky., La., Miss., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va.), the total popular vote was 22,160,765 for the incumbent to 16,229,948 for the challenger, a margin of 5,930,817.
Thus, the popular vote margin in the South, standing alone, exceeds the national margin by 2.4 million votes.
The popular vote margin for the incumbent in his home state of Texas, the largest single margin from any state for either candidate nationally, was 1,692,267, (4,519,023 to 2,827,756), thus accounting for nearly one-half of the national margin of victory. The only other two states with comparable margins for either candidate were New York, 1.2 million for the challenger, and California, one million for the challenger. (In 2000, incidentally, the margin in Texas was a little less than 1.4 million. Interestingly, despite the fact that 1.1 million more Texas voters cast ballots in 2004 than in 2000, the percentage of those voting for the Democrat remained a constant at 38%, while the incumbent, receiving 59% in 2000 as Ralph Nader polled 2%, this time picked up that extra 2% to tally 61% of the vote, with Nader not on the Texas ballot this time. It appears quite counter-intuitive, but one might ask therefore whether former Nader Texans turned out in droves to cast their votes for the incumbent in 2004. Who knows? All of those 3,400 Palm Beach residents after all took out their styli and punched in Buchanan in 2000 on their butterflies, as we know; anything is possible.)
In the next four Southern states in order of margins of victory (by thousands), Georgia (544.7), Alabama (482.4), Oklahoma (455.5), and North Carolina (426.7), there is yet another total popular vote margin of 1.9 million. (The only other states, in addition to California, New York, and Texas, to afford either candidate more than a margin of 400,000 votes were Indiana, 514,500 for the incumbent, Illinois, 513,000 for the challenger, and the challenger's home state of Massachusetts, affording him a margin of 727,000; in fact, these states, plus Utah, with a margin of 385,000 for the incumbent, were the only other states outside the South to have as much as even a 300,000 vote margin for either candidate.)
Consequently, adding just the margins of victory in Texas and these other four Southern states provides the 3.5 million popular vote margin of victory nationally for the incumbent.
The result, not surprisingly therefore, of a victory based on such a narrowly circumscribed population base is that the usual offset to a relatively slender popular vote margin, a much more substantial electoral victory, is not present in this election, with the maximum final margin being 34 electoral votes, 286 to 252. That places the election as the fourth smallest electoral margin in the country's history, only behind the contested elections of 1876 and 2000, and the close election of 1916.
The question is fairly asked therefore: If this small popular vote victory, coupled with the small electoral college victory, is considered a "mandate", as some are proclaiming it, could it fairly be called a national mandate or is it rather a narrow, regional mandate, indeed one limited primarily to these five Southern states?
The margins (by thousands) in the remaining Southern states in order are: 6. Florida, (377.2); 7. Kentucky, (356.6); 8. Tennessee, (348.8); 9. South Carolina, (273.8); 10. Louisiana, (273); 11. Virginia, (266.2); 12. Mississippi, (225.5); 13. Arkansas, (102.5); and 14. W.Va., (97.5).
So stated, conventional wisdom has been that the South has been solidly Republican in recent decades, with the exceptions of 1976, 1992, and 1996. But how solid is it really?
We have taken a look at the 2004 election results, county by county, throughout the South, and isolated the most populous counties, those with 90,000 or more who voted in the presidential election, (with slight exceptions to include a few smaller urban areas as indicated in the less populous states of Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia).
The findings show a less clear picture than conventional wisdom suggests, probably a surprisingly dimming picture for the "cultural conservatives" and the Republican Party which has doused itself in emotional issues since 1964, raising that form of politicking to an art form in 1968 and most usually since. These issues, originally civil rights and busing, the "silent majority" issues, now lately abortion, flag burning, the Pledge of Allegiance, and occasionally candidate-specific distinctions by "moral values" or "family values"--moral and patriotic appeals to emotion over reason--, are non-sensical as political issues because they have no place, and never will, in the political life of the country. They are issues of individual choice, and in the spirit of the Constitution, must remain that way. For as anyone with some level of understanding of our history and our constitutional framework readily grasps, all efforts in the past at moral prohibition or enforced patriotism through legislation, most notably the 1919 Eighteenth Amendment banning alcohol sales, transportation, and manufacture, and its associated Volsted Act, defining banned alcoholic beverages, have been miserable failures, only serving to stimulate the conduct they set out to prevent, or vice versa.
Ironically, the Republican Party, identified increasingly since the 1960's with States Rights and smaller Federal government, ideally setting in high relief the omnipresent and properly balanced tension between a strong Federal government and the sovereignty of the states and the citizens, as recognized in the Tenth Amendment, has embraced instead a platform of Federal control over personal liberty in ways never before set into law, encouraging Constitutional amendments to prohibit purely personal, individual conduct.
Someone ought educate the minions who fall for this nonsense, (and, sometimes, we suspect, the promoters of it who merely want to entice the votes of the minions while robbing the coffers), that society will never as a whole start banning these activities with the alacrity and dedication which some of our Puritanical/Patriotic brethren and swesoren wish.
For to do it would be, from a practical perspective, disastrous, consuming law enforcement and legal and judicial resources to the point that more serious forms of criminal conduct would thrive, perhaps, we sometimes suspect, a secret wish of some of these Simons and Nellies, all the more covenient to confirm predictions of Armageddon imminent.
Compounding that, as history demonstrated amply with charlatans operating in back alleys of yore, would be the resort to far worse forms of conduct compromising the public health and safety in ways presently kept sterile.
Yet, the Simons and Nellies appear to see only their subjective view of the matter--feeling it rather than thinking through it. As an example of this sort of politics-by-feeling, we heard a candidate for the Congress recently say in a debate, when asked by the moderator to describe the possible use for an assault weapon, that she hadn't the foggiest, but she was nevertheless in there fighting for her future constituents' rights to bear their arms, something in which she deeply believes, (most of her constituents, no doubt, being part of well-regulated militias); now that the candidate is a Congresswoman, perhaps she might wish to read up a little on the issue as to just what those weapons are used to do. Perhaps, the alumnists of Columbine High School might wish to send her some material in this regard.
Moreover, it appears little understood by the social conservatives that Congress can pass laws of a social nature only under certain delimited powers, usually by means of the regulatory power authorized by the commerce clause, through it reaching and limiting undesirable or unconstitutional conduct which "affects" interstate commerce.
The most common pet issues of the social conservatives, seeking to undo permissive abortion in the first trimester and seeking to ban flag burning, recognized as political speech in certain contexts, were decided adversely to the social conservatives by conservative justices of conservative Supreme Courts 31 and 15 years ago respectively; these holdings would not be overturned by simply appointing new justices. They cannot be overturned by mere legislation, as Constitutional rights are recognized by the decisions. Rarely are Supreme Court decisions overturned by the Court itself; it took 58 years for a decision as plainly out of joint with reality as the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson to be overturned in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, and yet another 20 years of strife in the streets, political machinations of the South's Machiavellians, and court wrangling after it for Brown to be fully implemented. A decision must be deemed to shock the conscience of society for it to be ripe for reversal, such that a subsequent Supreme Court would be inclined to set aside the time-worn concept of stare decisis, a foundation block of our legal system. Such profound departures from precedent will never occur on mere whimsy of changing Court personnel. If it were so, as soon as the Congress changed hands, pressure could be brought to bear on such whimsical judges and justices to resign their posts, doing ultimate treachery to the system of government we have, converting the independence of the judicial branch to a cheap political harpie and the legislative branch into an officious intermeddler.
That leaves the process of Constitutional amendment, utilized successfully only 17 times since the ratification of the first ten amendments on December 15, 1791 when Virginia voted their approval, only 15 times since 1804. This infrequent use of the process is so because to amend the Constitution requires not only the approval of either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the states even to propose such an amendment, but also that the amendment, once proposed, be passed by three-fourths of the states, that is 38 of the present states.
In the 2004 election, similar to the state by state results in 2000, the Democrat carried 19 states plus the District of Columbia. By our math, 50 less 19 is 31, not 38. Good luck, therefore, on Constitutional amendments which are selectively stressing social issues with which fewer than majorities of three-quarters of the states share any empathy.
Good luck likewise on court appointments of judges who will curtail our rights and seek to overturn clearly established precedent.
In other words, if some voted in 2004 for these buzz-word Republican platform issues in the hope of great gifts of patronage to these decades old little pet projects, they threw away their vote. C'est la vie. At least, they voted. It didn't cost anything. They still have their money saved for plane fare to a place which might appreciate the politics, such as Argentina. The point being that it is not that most people wish to have an abortion or to burn a flag but are able to recognize that to prohibit conduct of this nature is, on a practical level, fraught with more difficulty for society than the conduct itself, and from a legal perspective, both impossible to adequately enforce and depriving ultimately of fundamental individual liberty. After all, if the government can tell you that you cannot have a legal, safe abortion, then there is little reason practically why the same government should not be able to tell you where, when, and even whether you may worship a religion, what, if anything, you are free to say or write, and to implement other such controls over your conduct, controls against which the Constitution has been designed since 1789 to act as a final bulwark to prevent. And, indeed, inroads at times by states and localities, and even on rare occasions by the Federal government itself, have made it necessary to call upon the Bill of Rights to so act as last arbiter and protector against the curtailment of those freedoms--for as Jefferson said, governmental power is ceded to our elected officials jealously, not by "confidence" in the governing body.
Of course, the fact that the most Liberal Democratic presidential nominee since 1960 just obtained 56 million votes and 48.3% of the electorate actually bodes quite well for the future viability of the Democratic Party in its present incarnation. If anything, the Democratic Party needs to become more Liberal, in the traditional, not the more modern epithetical, use of the term, (often confused in the minds of many social conservatives with "libertine", of which their own often are, or once were), in order to serve as contradistinction to the limiting vices offered by the opposition, cloaked as moral conservatism.
The result of such a good distinction having been made in 2004 is the closest successful effort by an incumbent, whether initially elected or not, since 1916 when Woodrow Wilson beat Charles Evans Hughes by a margin of 49.4% to 46.2% and an electoral margin of 23 or 4% of the electors. Truman beat Dewey in 1948 by a 49.8% to 45.1% margin and, significantly, a 114 electoral vote margin. Thus, if the popular vote margin holds in final counts, the 2004 election will be the closest in history for a successful incumbent, and, except for 1916, by far the closest electoral margin, 34 votes or 6% of the electors.
By contrast, other successful incumbents seeking re-election had a considerably easier time:
In fact, indicative of how weak the spread of the vote was for the incumbent nationally, and how concentrated his strength in particular regions of the country, mainly the South, mainly Texas, the mechanism by which small popular vote margins are usually turned into relative landslides, the electoral margin, does not provide any indication of a mandate for the incumbent this time. If the margin holds at 34--and it cannot realistically increase from there--it will be only the fourth smallest margin in the country's history, after the contested elections in 1876 and 2000, when the margins were one and five electors, respectively, and the 1916 election. Aside from 1876 and 2000, the seven closer popular vote margins, 1844, 1.5%, 1880, .1%, 1884, .2%, 1888, (-.8), 1960, .2%, 1968, 1.1%, and 1976, 2.1%, each resulted in a substantial electoral college victory, at least equal to 9% of the electors. (In 1844, the electoral results were 170 for Polk to 105 for Henry Clay, a 24% spread; in 1880, 214 for Garfield to 155 for Civil War Union General Winfield Scott Hancock, hero of Gettysburg, a 16% spread; 1884, the closest electoral result of the bunch, 219 for Grover Cleveland to 182 for James G. Blaine, a 9% spread; 1888, 233 for Benjamin Harrison, the popular vote loser, to 168 for Cleveland, a 16% spread; 1960, 303 for JFK to 219 for Richard Nixon to 15 for Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, (14 with Strom Thurmond as vice-president and 1 with Barry Goldwater(?)), Byrd's anomaly resulting from Mississippi's unpledged electors turning their vote that a-way, plus Alabamans, pledged to JFK, turning tail in rebellion, together with an Oklahoman pledged to Nixon--see Harry Flood Byrd, The Mind of the South, Book III, Chapter 3, Section 9, p. 373, and Section 22, pp. 422-23, for description of this "honest and able example" of the Southern sort opposed to the Federal anti-lynching bill, repeal of the poll tax, which "disenfranchised about sixty per cent of the white people of the state in general elections", and in favor of retention of $1.25 per day wages for picking "apples on his plantation"--, how far the Deep South up the shackled, dusty road has come since 1940 and 1960...(?), a spread of 16%; 1968, 301 for Nixon to 191 for Humphrey to 46 for George Wallace, segregationist governor of Alabama, a spread of 20%; and 1976, 297 for Carter to 240 for Ford, a spread of 11%.)
Thus, given the limited geographical expanse of both the popular vote margin of victory in 2004, expended completely in five Southern states, and the small electoral margin nationally, we conclude that this election is hardly a mandate for anything. Add to those facts that after Texas, of the four other Southern states comprising the popular vote margin, Georgia is only 9th nationally in population, Alabama is 23rd , Oklahoma, 28th, and North Carolina, 11th, and the "mandate" evaporates even more rapidly, confirming precisely why the electoral college results were so close. (Coloring book enthusiasts who insist on clinging to the fallacy of the bright red maps need to get out of those cramped, brightly lit tv studios and travel the country a little. Most of that "red" zone west of the Mississippi is wide open country where one can literally travel 50 to 100 miles at a stretch without seeing a living human or even an empty building. Such expanse of land, whether "red" or "blue", or on orange alert somewhere in between, does not equate to votes--notwithstanding how quite stunningly painted in pastel beauty most of it certainly is at most anytime of day, anytime of year.)
Too, the notion being bandied that 51% is some magic number signifying a mandate by virtue of a simple majority overlooks the fact that a mandate implies necessarily by definition some overwhelming super-majority, not the sparest of simple majorities. Thus, it is the margin of victory either in popular vote or the electoral college, combined with the issues of the time and the enthusiasm of the opposition to defend its point of view, which define what constitutes a mandate. On any such criterion, a mandate fails miserably to be achieved from the results of this election.
Some have pointed for comparison to Bill Clinton's 1996 second-term victory, a clear mandate, though based on 49% of the popular vote. The failure to reach the simple majority plateau was inconsequential to the mandate as Clinton received a popular vote margin of victory of 8.5%, a clear and substantial 220 vote margin in the electoral college, and failed a majority popular vote only because of the presence of a substantial third party candidate. (Republicans often also conveniently overlook Mr. Perot's impact on the 1992 results as well, where Clinton won by 5.6% over George H. W. Bush, though accumulating only 43% of the total popular vote, with Perot garnering 19%. Ever heard anyone imply that the 1992 election was "close"?)
Perhaps, all the talk of mandate isn't that surprising, given that the Administration has quite governed us the last four years as if it had some mandate, based not only on the fact of less than 50% support in the last election, but also...as we know. Unfortunately for the incumbent, the lack of plain national clarity and unity in the results of the present election do not erase the enduring fogged mess of the last one. The taint remains.
For, if anything, the results in 2004 imply only perhaps an anti-mandate, especially with the majority of people having indicated prior to the election that the incumbent did not deserve re-election and that the country was on the wrong track. Perhaps, the incumbent has a mandate with respect to the states of Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, perhaps the other Southern states, but he will need more than these, or even that plus the sparsely populated plains and far west states, to govern effectively. So, too, will the Congress.
We strongly recommend to the new government, therefore, that it not take too seriously its majorities, achieved by small numbers of votes in the Senate across several seats between the last two elections, and accomplished in several cases through deceptive political advertising, not the least of which such machinations also aided the incumbent in the current presidential election campaign.
And, turning to our breakdown of the South's vote on a populous county by county basis, it appears that even the Solid South is not quite monolithically in the rouge. It is something which the Republicans need to recognize should they intend to remain even a viable party in years to come. (Come 'gain?) The reason we say it that way is that much of the fervor from the emotional-moral issues is losing its flavor on the long stored bedpost, through the decades.
There are perhaps at least four constituencies in the modern South, a traditional one, primarily rural, driven by religious, moral, and emotional "issues"--designed in the mind by that old tendency of Southerners to feel rather than to think; a second, composed of a more urbane population in small towns and large cities alike, having its renascence in the 1920's and gaining ground steadily since, not one which is necessarily less religious in fact than the former group but which tends to separate on a logical basis purely subjective or emotive notions from political issues; a third group, primarily rural, which is more pragmatic, and votes primarily on pocketbook issues; and a fourth which is mainly urban and votes based on a mixture of pocketbook issues and religious, moral, and emotive issues, sometimes mixed in with ad hoc, candidate-specific issues, as in 1992, and as in 2004, the latter regarding the emotive reactions to the challenger's post-Vietnam anti-war positions, reactions which played most prominently and divisively in the South.
And, of course, in this election, there has been the overlayering effect of the fear of terrorism, or at least so we are told by the networks and the pollsters. To what extent such a fear, if any persistence of it in reality there be, affected the electorate in the South, as distinct from the rest of the country, is unclear. The South has always tended toward a high sense of patriotism, at least in an emotional vain, but whether, in the final analysis, this tendency translates in fact to greater loyalty to the institutions of the country is certainly questionable, given the history of the South. Again, different constituencies exhibit different tendencies in this regard, just as they always have, even during the Civil War, before and after it. But, as the results in 2004 in the South were similar to those in 2000, as it was throughout the country, with the prominent exception that Florida was decided this time by 5 percent of the vote instead of by 5 votes, (or whatever it was last time), it is difficult to see any discernible difference in the South, or anywhere else, resulting from the supposed increased fear of terrorism in the last three years.
From the results nationally, however, one thing is plain with regard to fear of terrorism: the population centers most likely to be attacked voted usually overwhelmingly for the challenger, thus seeming to have heavily favored his more cautious, more patient, allied-cooperation approach to the issue over the lone-marshal-riding-the-prairie-cum-posse-comitatus approach of the incumbent. Manhattan, for instance, registered an 82% to 17% vote for the challenger; Brooklyn, the Bronx, similar margins. In Chicago, the margin was 81% to 18%, Cook County as a whole, 70% to 29%. In Philadelphia, the vote was 81% for the challenger; in Pittsburgh, 57%. In Wayne County, Michigan, containing Detroit, the vote was 69% to 30% for the challenger. Even in states which voted heavily for the incumbent, such as Indiana, the larger cities tended toward the challenger; Indianapolis and its suburbs voted for the challenger 50% to 49%. St. Louis voted for the challenger 55% to 45%; Kansas City, 58% to 42%. Denver voted for the challenger 70% to 29%. And, as you will see from the tables below, virtually all major Southern cities, save Houston, Fort Worth, Tampa, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Knoxville, Lexington, Ky., Raleigh, and Birmingham, voted either decisively for the challenger or were at least tied. Those latter cities include Dallas, New Orleans, Miami, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Little Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Richmond, Norfolk, and Fairfax County, Va. Likewise, most major Southern university towns, Austin, Texas, Athens, Georgia, Gainesville, Florida, Columbia, S. C., Chapel Hill and Durham, N.C., and Charlottesville, Va., voted heavily for the challenger.
Of course, each election is different, and by 2006, let alone 2008, many of the issues of today will be past, and new issues, or the recycling of old issues, will come to the fore to replace them. Nevertheless, it is interesting, with all the hubristic talk abounding on the Republican side citing this "mandate" since the results came trickling in during the long, agonizing night from the close states of Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, and finally Ohio, to see plainly just how hollow the claim rings when etched in with a few facts to go with the bald bombast.
It is also perhaps not unremarkable that the Texas results supply us with a wee bit of good old Southern irony:
For the next four years, the challenger's supporters may point to Deaf Smith County which voted nearly 4 to 1 for the incumbent, 4,139 to 1,133, as being emblematic of the Republican problem in recent times.
By equal and reverse measures, however, the incumbent's supporters might rejoinder that Dimmit County, voting for the challenger by a 2 to 1 margin, 2,365 to 1,188, signals the Democratic shortfall...1
So, here our Foggy Mountain Breakdown:
Southern States Ranked by Popular Vote Margin of Victory for Incumbent
1. Texas 61%-38% - 4,519,023 to 2,827,756, margin = 1,692,267
County (Major City) - Percentages for Incumbent and Challenger
(*Indicates county won by challenger or that margin between candidates was less than one point)
--Thus, of the most populous counties in Texas, the incumbent performed most strongly in and around Houston, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth and areas north of Dallas, Galveston, San Antonio, and Lubbock. The challenger performed well in Austin, El Paso, McAllen, and Beaumont. Dallas was essentially a tie.
2. Georgia - 58%-41% - 1,889,832 to 1,345,198, margin = 544.7K
--Atlanta proved strong for the challenger while the incumbent excelled in the outlying counties. The highest vote for the incumbent occurred in Forsyth County, 83% to 17%.
3. Alabama 63%-37% - 1,174,348 to 691,993, margin = 482.4K
--The challenger only faired well in the state capital.
4. Oklahoma - 66%-34% - 959,655 to 504,077, margin = 455K
--Oklahoma proved very unfriendly to the challenger across the map. Muscogee, incidentally, voted for the incumbent 15,121 to 12,585.
5. North Carolina - 56%-44% - 1,910,936 to 1,484,158, margin = 426.7K
--Charlotte, Durham, and Chapel Hill liked the challenger while the race tied in Asheville and Greensboro; the incumbent had a narrow win in Raleigh and won handily in Winston-Salem. About one-fifth of North Carolina's rural counties voted a majority, some, substantial majorities, for the challenger.
6. Florida - 52%-47% - 3,911,825 to 3,534,609, margin = 377.2K
--Thus, in Florida, the challenger performed well in Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Fort Pierce, Palm Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The vote was a tie in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
7. Kentucky - 60%-40% - 1,069,403 to 712,761, margin = 356.6K
--Louisville gave a narrow nod to the challenger while the incumbent won more easily in Lexington.
8. Tennessee - 57%-43% - 1,381,937 to 1,033,176, margin = 348.8K
--Memphis and Nashville decisively voted for the challenger while Knoxville and Chattanooga voted equally decisively for the incumbent.
9. South Carolina - 58%-41% - 924,170 to 650,350, margin = 273.8K
--Only Columbia among the more populous areas liked the challenger while Charleston provided a narrower victory to the incumbent than in other parts of the state.
10. Louisiana - 57%-42% - 1,101,296 to 818,207, margin = 273K
--New Orleans thoroughly endorsed the challenger while most other areas voted decisively for the incumbent with a close decision for the incumbent in Shreveport.
11. Virginia - 54%-45% - 1,662,484 to 1,396,269, margin = 266.2K
--Fairfax County, Richmond, Norfolk, Newport News voted decisively for the challenger while the other populous areas voted as decisively for the incumbent.
12. Mississippi - 60%-40% - 671,027 to 445,596, margin = 225.5K
--Only Jackson liked the challenger. Neshoba County voted for the incumbent 75% to 25%. The highest margin for the incumbent was in Jefferson County, 82% to 18%.
13. Arkansas - 54%-45% - 566,678 to 464,157, margin = 102.5K
--Only Little Rock liked the challenger.
14. West Virginia - 56%-43% - 418,151 to 321,641, margin = 97.5 K
Margins for Incumbent, Relative to Voting Population Among Southern States
1 For our part, we still have to wonder how the incumbent's chief political advisor somehow knew by around 7:00 p.m. on election night that the afternoon exit polls were substantially wrong, in fact the reverse of actual results tabulated electronically in Florida and Ohio, when no one else did until 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., respectively. He must be clairvoyant, as with the same remarkable sixth sense notions with regard to Florida in 2000 when the networks made the call for the Vice-President based on exit polling data showing the Vice-President in the lead by as much as 6.5 points, the campaign of the challenger, however, loudly objecting--at 7:30 p.m. And, of course, they were right. While perhaps electronic manipulation of the vote totals in a state is easier demonstrated than done under watchful eyes, we would not wish to let slip ourselves into a subtle combination of both George Orwell's and Arthur C. Clarke's dark visions of a sinistrally right-controlled future, now past. Whatever happened to the tried and true method of a pencil with which to mark a cardboard ballot? If it was a good enough system to determine the direction of our lives on all of those standardized tests in school, then surely it is good enough for us to continue to use to vote. But that's only our opinion. Incidentally, we admit that our predictions for the election were woefully wrong. But we won't belabor it. We did achieve two correct ones, that turnout would be as high as 56%, and that Halloween would occur on the eve of All Saints Day. We also got the popular vote margin to within .4%; we just happened to have it for the wrong candidate.