Was There a Broader Conspiracy?
Is it possible that the early projection was part of a broader plan
to take Florida? Consider what
would happen if the Gore team
could induce networks into making an early projection for him. What if
they could do so before polls were even closed?
An early projection could squelch voters in the Panhandle who
would typically vote for Bush. It could squelch voters in western states
who still had several hours to vote. It would create the illusion that
Gore was the winner even if he ultimately had fewer votes, thus setting up
manual re-tabulation in Democrat counties.
As much as a stretch as this might seem to be, consider the
Gore spent the last few days of his campaign in Florida, operating nearly around
the clock. Before Election Day, the Democrat numbers indicated that he would likely take
Pennsylvania and Michigan, but would be guaranteed the presidency if he could
somehow take Florida. They knew it would be close and that one final push
might make it an even match.
At one point Gore exclaimed, "This is the last official stop of campaign
2000. It's not an accident that I am here because Florida very well may
be the state that decides this election."
Ever since networks made an early projection in 1980
(taking a lot of heat from Democrats) they were guarded about projecting winners before the
polls have closed. In fact, they are loosely bound by a congressional agreement to
do otherwise. But oddly, they were very anxious to jump the gun and
declare the state of Florida for Gore, a state where the results were extremely
Wouldn't it be logical that Florida would take even longer to
project? Consider how close the election was. Consider that Bush had
more votes! Consider the complexity of
Florida's voting base and the miniscule amount of data collected by the VNS?
Why did they declare Gore the winner of Florida?
Why did they declare Gore the winner of Florida before polls
Why did they declare Gore the winner of Florida when Bush
never trailed in tabulations?
Further, what about other states? In contrast
to Florida, the networks decided to wait longer to declare states for
Bush, even the
states where he won handedly. For example, it took networks two hours and forty-five minutes to project West
Virginia, where Bush won by a comfortable 6 percent. In Ohio, it took them
an hour and forty-five minutes, where Bush won by 4 percent.
In North Carolina, Bush won by 13 percent
but the networks said it was "too close to call" for 35 minutes after the
polls closed. This caused Tom Brokaw to exclaim, "The idea that North
Carolina is still too close to call does come as a surprise this evening."
They waited at least thirty minutes on a variety of other states where Bush
won handedly, such as Georgia and Virginia.
Shouldn't the opposite have happened? Wouldn't it make
sense for the networks to declare the lopsided races early while holding off
on the tight races like Florida?
Who decided that it was safe to project Al Gore as the
winner of Florida before polls had even closed, yet decided more time was
needed to project other more lopsided states?
Is it possible that operatives were in strategic places in
order to manipulate the projection process?
One month before the election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine
Harris seemed to be concerned about networks making an early projection.
She submitted a letter urging them not to declare a winner before the polls had
closed. The message said, "The last thing we need is to have our
citizens in the Central Time Zone think that their vote doesn't count - Because
it certainly does!"
While most people assume that the botched network projection for Gore was merely
an act of aggressive carelessness, I am skeptical. Considering the extent
that Al Gore went to overturn the election in Florida, I am under the
impression that the early erroneous call was part of his plan.
CNN Report on the VNS