Laura Flanders on the Nader campaign

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Wed Oct 25 06:45:49 MDT 2000

>>They will all be voting for Al Gore.<<

You will have an opportunity to prove the veracity of this statement when
the elections are held and detailed demographics of the electorate are
collected via the exit polls.

I think it will show that the 50% or less of the voting age population that
does, in fact, vote, will be much whiter, much older, and much better off
than the population as a whole, and who wins in the election will be
determined largely by fractions of a percent shift in the composition of the
actual electorate.

For example, the republican setback in the congressional elections in 1998
was initially attributed by the instant analysis talking heads on TV to a
higher-than-normal turnout. They saw the figures that showed that in terms
of income, racial composition, etc., the electorate was more reflective of
the population as a whole than usual and guessed that more poorer people had
turned out to vote.

This was false. The turnout was lower. What had happened is not that more
Blacks, etc., had voted, but that participation among the social groups
where the Republicans have more support was disproportionately lower. This
was, I believe, the result of the generalized disgust with the sexual
witch-hunt then underway in Washington and the impeachment follies. But even
then, the Democrat surge wasn't strong enough to regain control of the
Senate or even the House, as although in theory all the House seats and 1/3
of the Senate were up for re-election, in fact 80-90% of the members of
Congress face no serious opposition and are automatically re-elected.

The point is, anyone who believes the likes of Peter Jennings and Bernie
Shaw and their analysts and pollsters who say Blacks or working people voted
this way or that way is being played for a sucker by the bourgeois media.
The "only" detail that will have been omitted is that the majority of
working people went about their business on November 7 just as they did on
November 6 and November 8, and that those who participated in the elections
were a distinct minority.

*   *   *

Let me add to that a word of warning about the polls you're seeing on TV
right now.

The bourgeois media are no longer publishing the results of their public
opinion surveys of the population as a whole, only the cooked figures of
"likely" voters. But from what little real data trickles out, it seems
fairly clear that, basically, there's been zero movement in the electorate
since the convention. In the population as a whole, Gore has a strong lead,
and what shifts from survey to survey to produce a Bush margin in the
published polls is who answers the questions in such a way as to get counted
as a "likely" voter and thus included in the final tally.

If you think about it, the 8 or 10-percent swings in public opinion that the
polls claim are taking place could hardly be possible unless there were a
tremendous amount of discussion and ferment in the population about these
elections. To produce such big shifts, people would have to be discussing
this all over the country, people would have to be obsessed with the
elections. And you would know among your friends and coworkers any number of
people who had switched from one side to the other, these would be swings
involving 15, 20 or 25% of the population, as a good number of those
switching to Bush from Gore would be offset by those going the other way,
the visible change in the percentage of support would just be the tip of the

I see absolutely no sign that anything like this is taking place. The shifts
in "public opinion" are a product of the doctoring being done by the polling
companies, not of the answers they are getting from people about who they
like better, Bush or Gore.

There is, in addition, a growing undercurrent of concern even among
pollsters. The response rate to political polls is now about 35%, according
to one figure I saw. That means two out of every three people they're trying
to talk to blow them off. They're starting to worry that the self-selected
group of people willing to talk to poll takers is going to be significantly
different from the population as a whole, reproducing what happened in 1948,
when the projected Dewey landslide turned into a Truman victory on election
day. After that, the pollsters came to the conclusion that it had been a
mistake to assume that a survey done by phone would be representative of the
population as a whole, and tried to correct for the systematic bias this
introduced by including demographic questions in the poll so the answers of
different social layers in the survey could be weighted, i.e., doctored. The
fear now is that the self-selected participant group is such a narrow part
of the population as a whole that there's simply no good way to compensate
for the bias by statistical techniques and the pollsters will wind up with
egg all over their faces. And if there is a significant rise in
non-cooperation with the exit polls on election day, as there has been with
political polls, we may actually have to wait for a good part of the votes
to be counted to find out who won.


----- Original Message -----
From: "jonathan flanders" <jon_flanders at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2000 5:29 PM
Subject: Re: Laura Flanders on the Nader campaign

>> I long to vote for a viable left alternative. I'll do it, for the
most likely, just to make visible the existence of a defiant left. But the
people I love in the non-white activist movement won't be coming along. <<

Right, they will all be voting for Al Gore.

Jon Flanders

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