To: Vice President Albert Gore
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Psst! Vote “irregularities”
Yes, you feel you have been cheated by the Electoral College, Mr. Vice
President, but it may be that you also lost the popular vote, but your
friends do not want to tell you about it. Republicans, especially
compassionate conservatives, are too polite to bring it up, but there are
deep suspicions of bigtime vote “irregularities” in the big cities that
may have given you the popular vote by 300,000 votes. That is, a lot of
the enormous black and Hispanic vote that went for you may have been
fictitious. Maybe 500,000 or a million! In Florida alone, black voter
turnout rose 65 percent this year over 1996, with 952,000 blacks voting
overwhelmingly for you compared to 527,000 in 1996.
Republicans I know in the Southwest and California are also telling
me, but are saying nothing out loud, that there were myriad votes cast
by illegal aliens from Mexico. The explanation is that the federal
voting laws have made it extremely easy for people to register to vote
and extremely difficult to purge the registration lists of people who
have moved or expired.
I would not have bothered with this, but a political writer for one
of our major newspapers e-mailed me over the weekend, expressing
bafflement as to how George W. Bush could get only 8 percent of the
black vote, after making such an effort to win a piece of it. Bush’s
miserable official showing rivaled that of the 1964 GOP nominee, Barry
Goldwater, who barely registered with the black electorate and did
miserably with the white electorate too.
Unless Republicans make a stink about this, which they will not do,
news media is unlikely to say anything either. It would be indelicate.
But I thought it would make you feel a little better.
In Philadelphia, I understand, the numbers are laughable. The
population is less than 1.3 million, and there are 1 million registered
voters, which implies there are almost no children and all the adults
are civic-minded. The turnout was 70 percent on Nov. 7, with some black
precincts reporting 100 percent turnout and 99 percent for you, and you
carried the city by 300,000 votes! That’s roughly 500,000 to 200,000.
The explanation I get from Republicans who live there is that there are
so few Republicans in the black community that all the precinct workers
are Democrats, which makes it easy for voting “irregularities” to
appear. I’ve spoken to a few black political leaders I know who tell me
they are not surprised, that “irregularities” may occur whenever one
party is so concentrated in an election district. It’s hard for them to
argue with these numbers.
I would of course advise Gov. Bush and his team to leave this issue
alone, as there is little to be gained by blaming the black community
for stealing his popular vote. When the political writer who e-mailed me
over the weekend asked why I thought Bush had done so poorly, I said he
had never asked black leaders to contribute any ideas to his campaign.
The two blacks he is identified with, Gen. Colin Powell and his national
security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, are not in contact with the black
community. They are wholly associated with military issues. I myself
wondered from the start why Bush would get behind a tax and economic
program that made no attempt to explain its importance to ordinary
people. He would give $1.3 trillion in tax revenues back to the small
number of well-to-do Americans, funds that seemed to be coming out of
the Social Security and Medicare funds.
I also told him that your campaign manager, Donna Brazile, had a
stroke of genius when she promoted a meeting between your running mate,
Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Louis Farrakhan, even saying he “respects”
Minister Farrakhan and that a number of his Jewish friends assured him
Farrakhan is not a bigot or anti-Semite. This was exciting stuff for the
black electorate, who respect Farrakhan for his message and his honesty
and who know him to be anything but an anti-Semite.
When both Gov. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, distanced
themselves from the idea of any kind of contact with the Nation of
Islam, it was further proof of your campaign’s insistence that the GOP
convention was just a minstrel show.
In other words, there were plenty of things Bush could have done to
win the popular vote without it going to you via “overcounts,” if I may
coin that phrase. If he had, the same black “turnout” might not have
helped elect five Democratic senators. On the assumption you have run
out of room and will soon concede, I hope this memo has been some