Bush ahead, but Gore’s got the edge

Posted on Oct 12 2000

Since the U.S. presidential race is a dead heat, political junkies are getting daily fixes from their allies, the pollsters. The latest poll I read–conducted by Zogby International–gives Bush a razor thin edge of 43 percent to Gore’s 42 percent support amongst likely voters.

Which is an issue that merely raises more issues. In the first place, of course, Messrs. Bush and Gore are in a statistical dead heat. This one is simply too close to call.

Another issue: given such tight race, the third party candidates may well be the ones who wind up choosing El Presidente. Professional hypocrite Ralph Nader claims fully 5 percent of the voters, according to Zogby, a level that’s held constant in recent days. It’s a fair guess that Nader’s lunatic constituency would be part of Gore’s support block if Nader was back chasing ambulances instead of making an ass out of himself on the television talk show circuit. And this incremental support would look likely to push Gore over the top and into the oral–er, oval– office.

You can’t talk about the fringe without mentioning Pat Buchanan, who claims a scant 1 percent of the likely voters…but this is a 1 percent that comes straight out of the GOP’s trailer park constituency. These no-necks and fundamentalists have been poached from Bush’s camp.

On a far more level headed strata, we have to glance at Libertarian candidate Harry Browne, who, like Buchanan, measures in at just 1 percent support. Browne is a pretty sharp guy when it comes to economics, and his book “How I found freedom in an unfree world” remains one of my favorites. I don’t know if you can judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s hard to think of a more alluring title.

If we add Nader, Bush, and Browne together, then, we come up with 7 percent of the electorate supporting third party candidates. Contrast this with Bush’s mere 1 percent lead, and it looks to me like the third party action is likely to be the swaying factor.

And then we have the “undecided” camp, which weighs in at 8 percent. It stands to reason that most of these folks will vote for Gore, given that if they’re undecided at this point, they must not be too disenfranchised with the status quo.

Speaking of disenfranchisement, after all this polling mumbo jumbo is assessed, we’re up against the fact that the presidential election isn’t decided by mere popular vote, so we’re just wasting our time here (sorry).

If you want to be painting organic portraits on blue dresses, you’ve got to snare the majority of electoral votes. Until we see polling data compiled by state, then, along with an analysis of the electoral vote angle, we can’t take the polling data very seriously.

But assuming–and it’s a flawed assumption–that the electoral vote will mirror the popular vote, I think it’s safe to say that Gore has the advantage on this one. The undecided block is a potential boon for him. And the media will remain locked and loaded to jump on any gaffe, stumble, or scandal that may come from the Bush camp.

In sum, it looks to me like Mr. Gore is going to win this one.

Stephens is an economist with Stephens Corporation, a professional organization in the NMI. His column appears three times a week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Mr. Stephens can be contacted via the following e-mail address: ed4Saipan@yahoo.com.

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