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New Book: TV Networks Cost Bush 10,000 Votes in Florida Election

Tuesday, 08 May 2001 12:00 AM

So says the Washington Times' Bill Sammon in his blockbuster new book,

The book, which has already hit No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list, is available to NewsMax.com readers at a price cheaper than Amazon or anywhere else on the Web.

Sammon, the Times' senior White House correspondent, spent months in Florida digging into the facts surrounding Gore's underhanded efforts to twist the results in the Sunshine State in his favor even though several recounts showed that Bush had won a narrow victory that gave him Florida's 25 electoral votes and the presidency.

In the first of a three-part series in the Times, Sammon zeroed in on the networks' call on election night that erroneously gave the state to Gore - even though the polls were still open and the votes uncounted in 10 of Florida's heavily pro-Bush counties in the state's Panhandle.

"Supporters of Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president outnumbered supporters of Vice President Al Gore by more than 2-to-1 in the Panhandle´s 10 westernmost counties, which collectively form the only region of Florida that falls within the Central Time Zone," Sammon wrote.

And because those 10 counties are on Central Time, the polls stay open an hour later than those in the other 57 counties of the state where Bush and Gore were neck and neck in the voting.

Either ignoring the fact that the polls were still open, or inexcusably ignorant of it, the networks fell into line behind NBC, which called the state for Gore at 6:49 p.m. CST.

As Sammon reports, even though there were only 11 minutes to go before the polls closed in the Panhandle, voters in line would be allowed to cast their votes after the 7 p.m. closing time.

But when many heard that the state had gone to Gore, they simply walked away, believing their votes wouldn't help Bush. Some stayed and voted anyway, but, as Sammon reveals, "tens of thousands of others were dissuaded by the premature, erroneous declaration of a Gore victory, according to studies conducted by Democrats, independents and Republicans. Taken together, these surveys show the bad call caused Mr. Bush a net loss of about 10,000 votes."

"By prematurely declaring Gore the winner shortly before the polls had closed in Florida's conservative western Panhandle, the media ended up suppressing the Republican vote," John R. Lott Jr., senior research scholar at Yale University Law School, told Sammon.

Lott, he writes, put Bush´s net loss at a "conservative estimate of 10,000 votes."

John McLaughlin & Associates, a Republican polling firm in Washington, pegged the loss at 11,500 votes. "Its poll, conducted Nov. 15 and 16, showed the premature calling of Florida for Mr. Gore dissuaded 28,050 voters from casting ballots. Although 23 percent were Gore supporters, 64 percent - or nearly three times as many - would have voted for Mr. Bush."

"The premature announcement discouraged many registered voters who, according to our survey´s results, would have voted like the rest of their neighbors - overwhelmingly for George W. Bush," said the survey´s authors, senior analyst Stuart Polk and data specialist Charlie Banks.

"If only a few thousand of these disenfranchised voters had heard that the polls were still open, and the race in Florida was still too close to call - and then voted - George W. Bush would have gained a decisive, net positive margin of votes over Al Gore.

"These votes would have helped Bush carry the popular vote statewide," the pollsters concluded, "without uncertainty."

According to Sammon, a study commissioned by Democrat strategist Bob Beckel admitted that Bush suffered a net loss of up to 8,000 votes in the Panhandle after the networks called Florida for Gore.

The McLaughlin survey revealed that two-thirds of the Panhandle voters had heard of the networks' false call in the 11 minutes that elapsed between the announcement that Gore had won the state and the polls closed, Sammon reports. Sammon notes that the significance of the network call and the suppressed turnout in the Panhandle that resulted cannot be overstated.

Simply stated, if the networks had not made their premature call, Bush would have gained something like 10,000 more votes in the Florida results, and the election would not have ended up being decided by the razor-thin margin of less than 1,000 votes.

Sammon notes that had Bush gotten those 10,000 or so votes he would have gotten if the networks hadn't made the false call, Gore would have faced a far more formidable task in trying to overturn the election results.

"Indeed, one crucial calculation that convinced Mr. Gore to fight so tenaciously for 36 days after the election was that he was only a few hundred votes shy of victory," Sammon observes.

"His lawyers and spinners constantly laid out scenarios in which they cobbled together enough votes in this county and that county to overcome Mr. Bush´s razor-thin margin of victory. A five-digit margin would have been much more daunting than a three-digit one."

Incredibly, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary Sammon cites, the networks stubbornly refuse to admit that their premature call so much as influenced a single Panhandle voter.

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So says the Washington Times' Bill Sammon in his blockbuster new book, The book, which has already hit No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list, is available to NewsMax.com readers at a price cheaper than Amazon or anywhere else on the Web. Sammon, the Times' senior White...
Tuesday, 08 May 2001 12:00 AM
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