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FINAL CALL: Gore Wins Narrow Electoral Margin*; GOP Retains Control of Congress
By Ken Rudin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, November 6, 2000
*Unless Bush carries Florida, Michigan, or Pennsylvania
Question: Has a presidential candidate ever won both California and New York yet lost the election? Jason Elias
Answer: No, and Al Gore should win both states on Tuesday. But thatís the easy part. The problem for us political wags is that there are still a sizable number of states that could go either way, a remarkable situation this late in the game. Yet, as a campaign observer who is paid huge sums to write about this stuff, itís time to make a stand.
My conclusion is that Gore will win a razor-thin Electoral College majority: 279 to 259. But if Bush can carry any of these states thought to be up for grabs Florida, Michigan or Pennsylvania then heís the next president. Itís that close.
Hereís my final look at where I see the states going; number in parentheses indicates electoral votes. Needed for election: 270. (*NOTE: An indication of the closeness of this election is that I even show a split electoral vote total in Maine, one of two states that allows it. The other is Nebraska.)
There obviously are so many variables here. Are Bush supporters more energized than Goreís? Will labor deliver for the vice president? Will supporters of Ralph Nader buy the Democratic argument that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush? Or have the past eight years of watching Clinton move the Democrats to the middle alienated enough on the left that they vote Green or not at all? Is "Clinton fatigue" enough to bring about a time-for-a-change result? Or is "peace and prosperity" enough for another four years of Democratic rule? And what to make of revelations of Bushís 1976 arrest for drunk driving? Will it turn off "swing voters"? Or will there be a backlash to the "November surprise"? In a race as close as this one appears to be, anything or everything can make the difference.
Question: Are most journalists tougher on Gore because they are indeed Democrats, or more liberal, and bend over backwards to appear impartial? Robert Bloom, Placerville, Calif.
Answer: Your question hits on what has been an ongoing debate within newsrooms around the country for the past month. If my mail is any indication, there is a feeling out there that Bush has been getting better press coverage than Gore for much of the past month. Why the non-stop questions about Goreís exaggerations, they ask, when the candidatesí respective records are the real issue? Of course, when Gore was experiencing glowing convention-bounce media reviews for much of September, my mail was filled with sentiments expressing the opposite view. Usually Iíve found that partisans of the trailing candidate are the ones who complain the most about the coverage.
Still, some journalists do feel Gore has a higher bar to climb because of the reason you state. Others contend that the media has been just as tough on both candidates, including weeks of non-stop questions about Bushís alleged cocaine past (when no proof or evidence of such behavior existed). There is no question that many journalists find Goreís personality off-putting, a view that was reinforced during the debates. But there is no legitimate reason or excuse for the media to treat Gore differently, for better or worse, than they do Bush.
Question: I have gotten several e-mails stating that the polling facilities are not going to be able to handle the larger-than-expected voter turnout this year. Therefore, Republicans are being asked to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and Democrats on Wednesday, the 8th. Have you heard of such a thing for this election? Shelly Workman
Answer: Iíve received the same e-mails. Itís a joke, of course. Election Day is Tuesday. Wednesday would be too late to vote.
Question: I'm a lifelong Democrat, but I am beginning to lean toward the very real possibility that Bush is going to win an electoral-college blowout. The strange thing is that there is one person who can stop the Bush juggernaut Bill Clinton. Gore has done everything imaginable to lose this race, and only Clinton can win it for him by campaigning on the issues as only Clinton can. What do you think? Terry Wimmer, Harrisburg, Penn.
Answer: The Gore camp is clearly torn about how to use Bill Clinton, though they apparently have decided they are going to win it or lose it on their own. The president certainly has the ability to fire up the party faithful blacks, Latinos, labor. But he is also not the kind of person the Gore campaign wants in closely contested swing states, where a Clinton appearance has the potential to backfire and boost Republican turnout. Itís obviously the most tormented relationship between a vice president and the man he hopes to succeed since 1968, when Hubert Humphrey tiptoed around the issue of Vietnam for fear of angering his boss until the very end of the campaign, when HHH called for a bombing halt in a memorable Salt Lake City speech. But by then it was too late.
Question: Donít you think the early announcement of voting tallies in the East will directly affect voters on the West Coast? I think this is very important. I wish the media would hold off until after the polls closed. Tom Byars, Vestavia Hills, Ala.
Answer: Most people agree that the early declaration on election night 1980 by the networks that Ronald Reagan would be the next president along with President Jimmy Carterís early concession speech stifled Democratic turnout in the West. And some have even said that this led to defeats of such Democrats as Sen. Warren Magnuson (D-Wash.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Al Ullman (D-Ore.). This would not happen if everyone in the country voted at the same time. But a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to be elected president. Once someone reaches the magic number, itís over no matter what voters in a certain region have to say. Perhaps this is an argument against the electoral college. But I find it difficult to argue that the media should not report what they know to be fact until all the polls have closed.
Question: I have heard that Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio), who will probably be reelected, will not vote for Richard Gephardt as Speaker should the Democrats pick up the seven seats needed to regain control of the House. What do you think he will do? William Chou, Berkeley, Calif.
Answer: In this critical battle for control of the House, every vote could prove to be decisive. So it is not out of the realm of possibility that Traficant could be the deciding factor on whether Gephardt or Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) wields the gavel for the 107th Congress. Traficant is a colorful character who likes to rant and rave before the C-SPAN cameras at the House well. But he is also under investigation on corruption charges stemming from his days as sheriff in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1983, while still the Mahoning County Sheriff, he was tried on charges of taking bribes from mobsters; acting as his own attorney, he fought the charges and was acquitted. Despite the expectation (expressed by Traficant himself) that he will be indicted once again, Republicans have been praising and wooing him ever since he said he would vote for Hastert.
The way I see it, neither side should discard Traficantís importance. My latest tally has the Democrats who need seven seats to take control of the House with a net pickup of four. Currently, itís 222 Republicans, 209 Democrats, and two independents, with two vacancies (1R, 1D) that are both likely to return to their original parties. With the predicted Democratic pickup of four seats, the new House will be 219 R, 214 D, 2 I with Traficantís vote ready for the GOP if needed. Here are my predictions (incumbent in parentheses):
DEMOCRATIC PICKUPS (10): Ark. 04 (Jay Dickey), Calif. 15 (open, Tom Campbell), Calif. 27 (Jim Rogan), Calif. 31 (Matthew Martinez)*, Fla. 08 (open, Bill McCollum), Ill. 10 (open, John Edward Porter), N.Y. 02 (open, Rick Lazio), N.C. 11 (Charles Taylor), Okla. 02 (open, Tom Coburn), Utah 02 (open, Merrill Cook).
*Martinez, a Democratic incumbent, was trounced in his bid for renomination in the June Democratic primary and subsequently proclaimed himself a Republican. The seat will almost assuredly return to Democratic control.
REPUBLICAN PICKUPS (6): Mich. 08 (open, Debbie Stabenow), Mo. 06 (open, Pat Danner), N.J. 12 (Rush Holt), N.Y. 01 (open, Michael Forbes), Pa. 04 (open, Ron Klink), Va. 02 (open, Owen Pickett).
As for the Senate, itís currently 54-46 Republican. Nineteen of the 34 seats at stake this year are held by the GOP. Dems need five for control remember, even if Gore wins, theyíll lose V.P. Liebermanís seat to a Republican appointment. But I see them winning three seats. Hereís a thumbnail look at all 34 seats:
REPUBLICAN RETENTION (14): Conrad Burns (Mont.), John Chafee (R.I.), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Bill Frist (Tenn.), Slade Gorton (Wash.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), James Jeffords (Vt.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Trent Lott (Miss.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Rick Santorum (Pa.), Olympia Snowe (Me.), Craig Thomas (Wyo.).
REPUBLICAN LOSSES (5): John Ashcroft (Mo.), Spencer Abraham (Mich.), open Fla. (Connie Mack retiring), Rod Grams (Minn.), William V. Roth (Del.).
DEMOCRAT RETENTION (13): Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Ted Kennedy (Mass.), Herb Kohl (Wisc.), Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Zell Miller (Ga.), Open Nebraska (Bob Kerrey retiring), Open New Jersey (Frank Lautenberg retiring), Open New York (Daniel Patrick Moynihan retiring), Paul Sarbanes (Md.).
DEMOCRAT LOSSES (2): Open Nevada (Richard Bryan retiring), Chuck Robb (Va.).
(Of the 11 gubernatorial races this year, Democrats could pick up two from the GOP: in Montana and North Dakota, where Republican incumbents Marc Racicot and Ed Schafer respectively are retiring.)
Question: Letís say the improbable (but not impossible) happens and the presidential election is thrown into the House because Bush and Gore each receive 269 electoral votes. I know that if it went to the House, each state would get one vote. What would happen in states like Maryland, which has an equal number of Republican and Democratic representatives? Larry Ryan, Keymar, Md.
Answer: Assuming Marylandís four Democrats and four Republicans in the House refused to vote for a candidate of the opposite party, the deadlock would result in the state not casting a vote.
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