- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

Race was the most potent factor in Tuesday's elections, with 90 percent of black voters voting for Al Gore despite George W. Bush's fervent outreach to the minority community.
White voters favored Mr. Bush by a 53 percent to 42 percent margin, and blacks supplied Mr. Gore's 98,000-vote edge in the popular vote and helped the vice president win key states.
The recount in Florida, where the margin between Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore was less than 2,000 votes, was entirely due to blacks voting overwhelmingly for Mr. Gore. Whites in Florida voted 57 percent to 40 percent for Mr. Bush, exit polls showed, while blacks went a stunning 93 percent to 7 percent for the vice president.
Mr. Bush's appeals to minority voters, an effort unprecedented for Republican presidential candidates, apparently gained him no extra black votes on Election Day, even in his home state, where he won only 5 percent of black votes.
"Despite numerous overtures by George W. Bush, blacks voted hugely and typically for the Democrat," says independent pollster John Zogby. "Bush made no inroads at all in the black voter bloc."
In crucial swing states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, black votes made the difference for the Democrat, providing an Electoral College count so close that the election came down to one deadlocked state.
Such clear-cut evidence of racial polarization has many Republican analysts asking whether President Clinton and others haven't contributed to the growing chasm between the races by emphasizing racial issues.
Democrats "made a concerted effort to turn out [the black] vote and they did it in a very divisive way," says Bush campaign spokesman Mindy Tucker.
She recalls Mr. Gore's remarks at a black church in Pittsburgh before Election Day in which the vice president suggested that Mr. Bush, if elected president, would appoint federal judges who would use "the strictly constructionist meaning that was applied when the Constitution was written how some people were considered three-fifths of a person."
"Certain things [Mr. Gore] insinuated along the way were just outrageous and done for the explicit purpose of dividing the black community from other Americans."
She notes that Mr. Bush did better among other voter groups, such as women and Hispanics.
"We lost among [non-Hispanic white] women by only one [percentage] point," says Miss Tucker. "And in 1996, the Democrats' margin of victory among Hispanics was 7-to-2. This time, it was 2-to-1."
Scott Rasmussen, who conducted his own post-election voter survey for Portrait of America, says, "In America today, for whatever reason, the black vote goes overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. The only question before an election is how strong the black turnout will be."
That observation is illustrated in several key states carried by Mr. Gore, where the black vote proved decisive:
While Mr. Bush won by a narrow margin (49 percent to 48 percent) among white voters in Illinois, Mr. Gore's 92 percent to 7 percent advantage among black voters help him carry that state by 12 percentage points.
Mr. Bush led among white voters in Maryland and Michigan (51 percent to 46 percent). More than 90 percent of black voters in those states chose Mr. Gore, giving him a 57 percent majority in Maryland and a 51 percent to 46 percent margin in Michigan.
White voters in Pennsylvania chose Mr. Bush by a 50 percent to 48 percent margin, and black voters overcame that Bush margin to give Mr. Gore a 51 percent majority in the total vote.
"No other voting bloc votes so overwhelmingly for the Democrat candidate," says Republican pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick.
"Talk about polarization I was amazed when I looked at some of the congressional districts with heavy black populations."
In Deep South states with the nation's largest black populations, however, overwhelming white majorities for Mr. Bush nullified Mr. Gore's advantage among black voters.
In six states Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas more than 70 percent of white voters went for Mr. Bush. In Mississippi, where blacks are 36 percent of the population, 81 percent of whites voted for Mr. Bush, giving him a 58 percent to 40 percent win. Mr. Bush won Tennessee and Virginia with 60 percent of the white vote in those states.
"This election was about geography not demographics," says Miss Fitzpatrick. "But this black vote is one of the very few exceptions to that. It made it easy for Democrats to target I mean, everyone knew Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan were critical to this race. But Democrats had a natural advantage because it afforded them the opportunity to focus in on a homogenous, monolithic group of voters who vote Democrat."
Mr. Zogby agrees. "The black vote is as much a slam-dunk Democrat vote as you can get," he says.
"In Florida and Pennsylvania, the Democrats' Medicare scare campaign did turn more seniors out," says Miss Fitzpatrick. Still, Bush did better among seniors than had past Republican candidates in Florida.
Like Mr. Rasmussen, Miss Fitzpatrick conducted a survey of those who actually voted in the presidential election on Tuesday.
"It is particularly disturbing in the year 2000, when so many improvements have been made in race relations and so many black Americans are part of the investor class and Internet-user class, that none of those cultural improvements are reflected at the ballot box on Tuesday," she says. "Their default position is 'Democrat.' "

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