At 9:10 p.m. Tuesday, George W. Bush and Al Gore were tied in Electoral Votes, at 242 each. Bush had won Arkansas and its six votes while Gore won Washington with it’s 11 votes. As Brian Williams from NBC so eloquently put it: “”They don’t get any deader than this dead heat.”” Even though the presidential election has yet to be decided, this article will look at some interesting aspects of the race and some trends that it revealed.
In the next couple of days, everyone, from the media to political analysts to the loser of this election, will be asking him- or herself: Why is this election so close?
It is even tighter than the 1960 elections between Nixon and Kennedy, to which this election is continuously juxtaposed. Everyone had predicted a close election but did it really need to be this close?
The answer is: No.
This was not an election that had to be forced down to the wire as it currently is.
Not to take any credit away from Bush if he is declared the winner, but this is an election that Gore should have won, hands down.
This nation is only now coming out of the economic boom that the Clinton-Gore administration overlooked. True, they had little to do with moving the nation into the New Economy, but, as proved by voter preferences throughout numerous elections, this matters little.
As long as the people live in prosperous economic times, they vote, in their minds, to keep the good times rolling. Being vice president, Gore automatically inherited this from Bill Clinton.
Second, the United States is at peace. Obviously there are still terrorist nations, but America is not involved in a war while entering this election.
When Nixon won the presidency in 1968, the nation was torn by the Vietnam War. Gore and Bush, and thankfully America, are not faced with this situation.
As a result, there is no excuse for the election to be as close as it is. If Bush is declared the winner, it is because Gore gave him that opportunity.
What about the Nader effect? It is obvious to anyone that looks that the popular votes in the close states that Nader changed the outcome.
If even one-half of the votes in Florida that went to Nader went to Gore, the state would have tipped to Gore’s favor. As Lawrence O’Donnell, a commentator, said, “”If George Bush wins Florida, the first phone call he needs to make is to Ralph Nader to thank him.””
However, this goes back to the earlier argument: Gore had the opportunity to pull ahead but did not take advantage of it. He had the money and he knew far enough ahead the trouble that Nader presented. Because he did not act, someone else will determine his political future.
What does this presidential election show about the national trends?
Considering how the senatorial races are developing, with the possibility of having a 50-50 split, it means the nation is decidedly moderate.
Though Republicans still, surprisingly, hold the House, it is with a much slimmer majority. Americans have converged to the center. Consider the past few presidential and midterm elections.
The last time we had a unified government was in 1992. Since then, Americans have divided the government between the two parties. With each election, the number of seats that the majority Republicans held has slowly shrunk.
Now, the difference in the House is less than a dozen and there is a possibility that the Senate will be evenly split down the middle, leaving the deciding vote to the vice president, whomever that may be. This would be the first time since 1882 that something like this happened.
As unified as this nation may seem in her politics, one look at the electoral map shows how differently one American views the candidates than the other. Down the middle of the nation: Bush Red. On the coasts: Gore Blue. While Americans may be moderate, each American’s view of what, and who, is moderate varies greatly.
Some consider Gore and his New Democrats as centrists. Others view Bush and his compassionate conservatism to be the middle.
This presidential election indicates the cultural and regional differences of the nation. “”Starbuck’s vs. Dunkin’ Donuts,”” as CNBC commentator Chris Matthews calls it.
What will this mean for America? The next president can win the elections without winning the popular vote, something that has happened only three times in the history of the United States. Will the Electoral College be scrapped? Will a dead man be elected to the Senate? Only time will tell.
Until then, sit tight; we’re in store for a wild ride.