In the Year 2000

Some of you may remember the Presidential election in 2000.  It was pretty close – boiled down to a few hundred votes in Florida. If Bush carried the state, he’d win the Electoral College by one vote. If not, Gore would win.

In the long recount process, Gore missed a bet.  What he should have done was call for a statewide recount and argue that ballots that were technically spoiled, but where intent was unambiguous, should be counted.  There were many such votes, in which someone punched for a presidential candidate and also wrote in that same name.

That sure sounds fair.  It would have favored Gore, probably enough to win, because black voters voted 90% for the Democrats, and black voters make more mistakes, just as they have lower scores on every kind of standardized test.  As Linda Gottfredson once said, “Life is an IQ test”.  There were many allegations of various of voter fraud, discrimination, etc. but that’s not what happened.  The effect is general.

The error rate varied with the voting method: Florida used punch cards, optical scans, paper ballots, and voting machines in different counties.  The  “residual vote” rate was different for different methods, but the black error rate was always higher.   There have been several journal articles about this in the 2000s, but  I knew it at the time. In part, this was because I had seen it in action in California: Ballots for Jesse Jackson were particularly likely to be messed up, in the 1984 primary.

Nobody in the Gore campaign understood this – but if someone did, he had sense enough to keep his mouth shut.  It might have worked. The Republicans wouldn’t have seen the hook – because none them understood it either.

I didn’t pass this on, because at the time I wanted Bush to win (which turned out bad, very bad) and of course because nobody would have listened anyway.

It’s all my fault.

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55 Responses to In the Year 2000

  1. Sandgroper says:

    So limiting voting to only higher IQ voters would have been a way of ensuring the bad outcome.

    • gcochran says:

      Yep. Happens fairly often.

      • Sandgroper says:

        If it helps to relieve the guilt, I would have voted for Bush too. As it happens, I didn’t have a vote (not unreasonable, given that I’m a foreigner living in a foreign country) but I fervently wanted him to defeat Gore.

  2. Jaim Jota says:

    You knew it at the time and said nothing because you liked the result. Others, who had set up the trap, said nothing for the same reason. The Democrats said nothing, but they took care that it was never repeated.

  3. bob sykes says:

    The New Times, Washington Post and LA Times paid for a recount, and Bush won by a few hundred votes.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      reread the post. if votes had been counted that were technically spoiled but were unambiguous in intent Gore would have won. there were a couple of confusing things about the Florida ballot, the hanging chad thing just being the most important one.

  4. La Griffe du Lion covered it very well
    Turns out every different voting system had its own IQ related item failure rate. Gore won, apparently. In earlier times in Britain voting was restricted to householders. They were probably brighter, and very probably had a better understanding of what was at stake in any election.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      It somehow seems fitting that the man who invented the internet was defeated by an IQ test 🙂

      • onecertain says:

        I have an IQ test: people who use that particular line of attack on Al Gore are morons, and using a smiley doesn’t alter that fact.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I have an IQ test: people who use that particular line of attack on Al Gore are morons, and using a smiley doesn’t alter that fact.

        Given that Fat Al only has a Divinity Degree, I must be in good company then.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I am happy to be corrected. I suspect that a BA in Government is worse than I thought. I guess I should have looked it up. Shame on me.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Seems I was more wrong than I thought. There is/are also his honorary degree(s).

      • onecertain says:

        In case you actually don’t know the truth (quite likely if you only get your news from wingnut sources), Gore never claimed to have invented the internet — that is a lie. He claimed, truthfully, to have displayed some leadership in getting it funded and institutionally backed by the government.

    • Andrew says:

      Many states in the early US republic also had a property requirement (freeholders) for the franchise. Massachusetts proposed to eliminate the property requirement and only restrict women (this was about 1820ish). Daniel Webster made a fine speech arguing that only property owners could counterbalance the elites. He lost. Women got pissed they were the only ones without the franchise. They got it ~50 years later and Daniel Webster was taken off the $10 bill.

  5. thatlllarnya says:

    This very matter was treated

  6. ironrailsironweights says:

    because black voters voted 90% for the Democrats, and black voters make more mistakes
    Florida also has a high percentage of elderly voters, who were predominately Bush supporters, and chances are that many of them had trouble with the confusing ballot-marking system.


    • gcochran says:

      The elderly in Florida weren’t “predominantly Bush supporters”, as you would know, if you had lived in this country for any length of time and read the paper.

      “The number of no votes was proportionally higher among the less educated and minorities, two key Democratic constituencies.

      No votes were less likely in counties with a greater percentage of college graduates, but the incidence of no votes was greater in counties with a larger percentage of minorities. Counties with a larger percentage of women voters were no more likely to have more no votes. In addition, increased no votes was no more likely to occur in counties with larger portions of elderly population.

      All the estimated coefficients are statistically significant from zero at the five- or one-percent level. While measures of goodness of fit are not as meaningful for models with dependent variables with this logistic structure, the R2 for this equation was almost 80 percent. ”

      “According to the estimates reported in Part 1 of Table 5, the odds of a vote being cast for the Democratic candidate are higher in counties with more college graduates, with more minorities, and with older populations. There was no evidence with counties with a larger female population being more likely to vote Democratic.”

      see here.

  7. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Would the crazy shit Gore was into have been any better than the crazy shit Bush was into?

    I am sure that a different big company had Gore in their pocket.

    • rightsaidfred says:

      Yes. Bush was bad, but I’m not sure about Gore, “grass is greener…” etc.

      But hard to see how Gore could have been worse. But maybe not.

      • Anon says:

        No matter what your political leanings, looking backwards I don’t think anyone could be worse than Bush. Electing Bin Laden probably wouldn’t have been nearly as harmful.

      • ziel says:

        The only undeniably positive net gain we got with Bush over Gore was from his Supreme Court picks, and even that was touch and go for awhile with Harriet Myers (now a diversity consultant) – though that’s a biggy, I’ll grant. But few presidents have had two major screw ups foreign and domestic. It’s even possible that, just due to continuity alone, 9/11 might never have happened under Gore.

      • Sid says:

        Would 9/11 have happened? Most likely, though the Bush Administration took Al-Qaeda less seriously than Bill Clinton did, and Bush mostly ignored Clinton’s parting advice to him to take on Al-Qaeda. It’s possible Gore would have taken measures against Al-Qaeda, though there’s no certainty he would have.

        Would the War in Iraq have happened, following 9/11? I’m more inclined to believe it would have happened under Gore than most, since Al Gore was pushing for regime change back in the 90s as VP. If Gore had invaded Iraq, the occupation at least would have been better, since I can’t imagine Gore would have made Rumsfeld his Secretary of Defense.

        Would Katrina have been as horribly mismanaged? I doubt it, though we ought to give as much blame to the city and state governments of New Orleans and Lousiana as we should to the federal government.

        Would the Mortgage Bubble and Crash have occurred? I think the groundwork for the crisis was actually laid in the 90s. Read “Reckless Endangerment” by Gretchen Morgenson. Bush deserves much censure for promoting minority homeownership, but that’s all he really did: promote it from afar. I imagine Al Gore also would have promoted minority homeownership, though the question should be, “Would Wall Street have issued subprime loans under Gore as they did under Bush?” I imagine so. It should also be noted that it was Democrats, such as Barney Frank, who were most adamant about not investigating Fannie and Freddie.

        In short, I think 9/11, Katrina and the Mortgage Meltdown all would have occurred, though Katrina probably would have been less destructive under Gore, since Bush during his second term was a shockingly lazy, unresponsive and aloof president. It’s possible that the Iraq War would have happened under Gore, though whether he would have done it or not is impossible to know.

        We should also note that Gore’s global warming hoax shows he’s at least as much a Machiavel as Bush. Predicting what would have occurred in a parallel timeline is also a fruitless task, since Gore could well have done other stupid shit, and we don’t know what kind of effect Congressional Republicans would have had on what Gore would have been doing. All this use of the subjunctive is wearing out my keyboard.

  8. winestock says:

    Perhaps there’s a way to take advantage of the mutual blindness of Democrats and Republicans when it comes to things that One Must Not Say. Or maybe I’m not cynical enough.

  9. oval says:

    so now you understand why hbd is censored in most comment section, i will no longer take much of what you say regarding hbd seriously, for a physist you should be ashamed to swallow the official line regarding 911.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      Wow. Non sequiter. Point me at some credible sites.

      Some aspects of the buildings coming down do look like controlled demolitions … but there could be other explanations, and unless the guys at the top killed all the perps and then killed the killers its hard to imagine something not coming out.

      Of course, as Steve Sailer says, lots of people routinely believe that there is this conspiracy to keep minorities and Jews down. Heh.

      • Sandgroper says:

        We don’t have to go through all that again, do we? There was a highly competent and highly transparent analysis carried out by an international panel of engineers to show why the buildings collapsed the way they did. Show me the sane competent structural engineer anywhere in the world who gives any credibility whatever to that stupid conspiracy theory.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You are an idiot. Now that we’ve covered that, we have plenty of idiots posting here already. What we need more of is interesting idiots and/or holy fools. We have not yet had a visit by a devotee of Koreshanity, or Fomenko’s New Chronology, or Skoptsys, but there is still hope.

    • Sandgroper says:

      At least try to spell physicist correctly.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Let me provide you with a simple rule to follow oval. Apparently you need simple rules. Never blame on a conspiracy what could just as easily be caused by human stupidity. Conspiracy theories are far more prevalent than people think, they are not just the hatchlings of complete kooks. Most mainstream political viewpoints for example are just very popular conspiracy theories.

  10. misdreavus says:

    I had to look up Skoptsy on Google. Oh sweet Moses!

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      I looked up several. Not much reproductive success with the first and the hollow earth theories seem to have problems.

      • TWS says:

        Pellucidar? Sign me up! Mama I’m coming home. Why don’t other religions have cool things like that? I am definately getting in on that action. No aging, chicks in scanty fur bikinis, dinosaurs, what is not to like?

        I’ll bring the trusty survival kit and my “boom stick” and I will be running the place by Christmas.

      • misdreavus says:

        The mastectomy and castration without anesthesia (“baptism by fire)” is what really blew my mind. Apparently that goofy sect had over 100,000 members at its zenith. I mean how does one even — wtf, just how perverted you have to be to even contemplate doing this to your own body, let alone force the procedure on your little ones?

        And what kind of evil jackass would be depraved enough *start* a cult like this, let alone convince thousands of people to mutilate themselves? My sympathy for the fearless trailblazer who first volunteered for the unlucky snip-snip. Truly there are no limits to human stupidity.

      • TWS says:

        This is Pellucidar? That just blows. Why can’t a cult come up with something better than that? Besides if we were in the center I’d look up and see Australia or something. They’ve got a moronic cult. If _I_ were running it we’d have a much better set up. Burroughs would be proud to write about us and the half naked hotties riding dinosaurs.

  11. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s a NY Times article during the middle of the recount:

    COUNTING THE VOTE: DUVAL COUNTY; Democrats Rue Ballot Foul-Up In a 2nd County
    Published: November 17, 2000

    Democrats in Duval County prepared meticulously for Election Day. They registered thousands of voters and ferried enough people to the polls in predominantly African-American precincts to give a solid boost to Vice President Al Gore in a county expected to swing reliably into Gov. George W. Bush’s column.

    But the results of Duval County’s vote left Democrats here shaking their heads. More than 26,000 ballots were invalidated, the vast majority because they contained votes for more than one presidential candidate. Nearly 9,000 of the votes were thrown out in the predominantly African-American communities around Jacksonville, where Mr. Gore scored 10-to-1 ratios of victory, according to an analysis of the vote by The New York Times.

    The percentage of invalidated votes here was far higher than that recorded in Palm Beach County, which has become the focus of national attention and where Democrats have argued that so many people were disenfranchised it may be necessary to let them vote again. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have demanded a hand recount or new election in Duval County.

    Local election officials attributed the outcome to a ballot that had the name of presidential candidates on two pages, which they said many voters found confusing. Many voters, they said, voted once on each page. The election officials said they would not use such a ballot in the future.

    Rodney G. Gregory, a lawyer for the Democrats in Duval County, said the party shared the blame for the confusion. Mr. Gregory said Democratic Party workers instructed voters, many persuaded to go to the polls for the first time, to cast ballots in every race and ”be sure to punch a hole on every page.”

    ”The get-out-the vote folks messed it up,” Mr. Gregory said ruefully.

    If Mr. Gregory’s assessment is correct, and thousands of Gore supporters were inadvertently misled into invalidating their ballots, this county alone would have been enough to give Mr. Gore the electoral votes of Florida, and thus the White House.

    The voters turned out by Democrats, Mr. Gregory said, took the instructions to vote in every race to mean: ”I’ve got to vote for Gore. I’ve got to be sure Bush doesn’t get elected. I’ve got to vote on every page.”

    • Sandgroper says:

      So people who only voted because they were persuaded to by the get-out-the-vote people were then ‘disenfranchised’ by the same people giving them the wrong advice on how to fill out the ballot papers.

      There’s something beautifully circular about that.

  12. dearieme says:

    Had I been American I’d have been tempted to vote against Bush the first time. Then he proved to be a spectacularly bad president, but I’d have been tempted to vote for him the second time because (i) Kerry was an appalling candidate, and (ii) I thought that Bush should be held to account for Iraq, not let off the hook and enabled to blame his successor for things there getting worse.

  13. Drive-By Poster says:

    The reality of “HBD” stares you in the face every single day, presuming you get out of the house or at least read the news. The Twin Towers? Not so much. Now if you could just make like the WTC and…

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      So, are you only a 9/11 truther or are you also a fake moon landing truther?

    • Discard says:

      Did two great big airplanes not fly into the trade towers, thereby knocking out much of the supporting structures? Did the two big airplanes, freshly fueled, not burn like sons of bitches? Did some of the remaining steel structure not soften after 40 minutes or so of heating? (Steel does not have to burn, or even turn red before it loses strength.) Did the upper stories not collapse the remaining supports on the afflicted floor when the static load exceeded their diminished load bearing capacity? Did the ten foot drop of, say, 10,000 tons of building not exceed the capacity of the floor below the air strike? And once the mass of the upper stories starts dropping, what could have stopped the progressive collapse of the whole structure?

      All conspiracy theories ought be run past a welder before publication.

  14. Anthony says:

    It wasn’t your fault, it was the gay black Republicans of Florida.

  15. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Potential topic (not sure if you can access this link, though):

    Are great scientists always heretics?

  16. Discard says:

    Regarding hanging chads:
    Assuming that not everyone reading this site is old enough to recall the 2000 election, a chad is the little piece of paper that gets knocked out of a punchcard, like the ballots we used to have. If you don’t know what a punchcard is, think of a paper punch, and the little round pieces of paper that fall out.
    A hanging chad is a chad that wasn’t cut completely away.
    Hanging chads were at the center of the disputed Florida vote count in 2000. Should an incorrectly marked (or punched) ballot be counted?
    If you want to make hanging chads at home, stick a few extra sheets into your paper punch. If you want to make hanging chads at the voting booth, wait until the polls close, grab the unused ballots, and race to get them punched two or three at a time.

  17. Toddy Cat says:

    Bush and Gore were both total nitwits. Bush made terrible mistakes. Gore would probably have made equally terrible, although possibly different, mistakes. The biggest problem stems from the fact that the United States has over 300 million people, many of them intelligent and some of them downright brilliant, and yet these two yo-yos were the best that our political system could come up with. If I had my 2000 vote to do over again, I’d have written in Eisenhower.

  18. Sideways says:

    I’m blaming you, Greg, for the blogosphere taking up Bush v Gore again this week.

  19. Pingback: Lesson from 2000 Election: Blacks Mess Up Their Ballots More |

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