Bush Set to Fight An Electoral College Loss
                     NY Daily News          November 1, 2000
                           They're not only thinking the unthinkable, they're planning for it.

                   Quietly, some of George W. Bush's advisers are
                   preparing for the ultimate "what if" scenario:
                   What happens if Bush wins the popular vote for President, but loses
                    because Al Gore's won the majority of electoral votes?

                   "Then we win," says a Gore aide. "You play by the rules in force
                   at the time. If the nation were really outraged by the possibility,
                   then the system would have been changed long ago. The history is clear."

                   Yes it is, and it's fascinating. Twice before, Presidents have been
                   elected after losing the popular vote. In 1876, New York Gov.
                   Samuel Tilden won the popular vote (51% to 48%) but lost the
                   presidency to Rutherford Hayes, who won by a single electoral
                   vote. Twelve years later, in 1888, Grover Cleveland won the
                   popular vote by a single percentage point, but lost his reelection
                   bid to Benjamin Harrison by 65 electoral votes.

                   The same thing almost happened in 1976 when Jimmy Carter
                   topped Gerald Ford by about 1.7 million votes. Back then, a
                   switch of about 5,500 votes in Ohio and 6,500 votes in
                   Mississippi would have given those states to Ford, enough for an
                   Electoral College victory. But because it didn't happen, the upset
                   over its having almost happened faded rapidly.

                   Why do we even have the Electoral College? Simply put, the
                   Founding Fathers didn't imagine the emergence of national
                   candidates when they wrote the Constitution, and, in any event,
                   they didn't trust the people to elect the President directly.

                   A lot has changed since then, including the anachronistic view that
                   the majority should be feared. But the Electoral College remains.

                   So what if Gore wins such crucial battleground states as Florida,
                   Michigan and Pennsylvania and thus captures the magic 270
                   electoral votes while Bush wins the overall nationwide popular vote?

                   "The one thing we don't do is roll over," says a Bush aide. "We fight."

                   How? The core of the emerging Bush strategy assumes a popular
                   uprising, stoked by the Bushies themselves, of course.

                   In league with the campaign which is preparing talking points
                   about the Electoral College's essential unfairness a massive
                   talk-radio operation would be encouraged. "We'd have ads, too,"
                   says a Bush aide, "and I think you can count on the media to fuel
                   the thing big-time. Even papers that supported Gore might turn
                   against him because the will of the people will have been thwarted."

                   Local business leaders will be urged to lobby their customers, the
                   clergy will be asked to speak up for the popular will and Team
                   Bush will enlist as many Democrats as possible to scream as loud
                   as they can. "You think 'Democrats for Democracy' would be a
                   catchy term for them?" asks a Bush adviser.

                   The universe of people who would be targeted by this insurrection
                   is small the 538 currently anonymous folks called electors,
                   people chosen by the campaigns and their state party organizations
                   as a reward for their service over the years.

                   If you bother to read the small print when you're in the booth,
                   you'll notice that when you vote for President you're really
                   selecting presidential electors who favor one candidate or the other.

                   Generally, these electors are not legally bound to support the
                   person they're supposedly pledged to when they gather in the
                   various state capitals to cast their ballots on Dec. 18. The rules
                   vary from state to state, but enough of the electors could
                   theoretically switch to Bush if they wanted to if there was
                   sufficient pressure on them to ratify the popular verdict.

                   And what would happen if the "what if" scenario came out the
                   other way? "Then we'd be doing the same thing Bush is apparently
                   getting ready for," says a Gore campaign official. "They're just
                   further along in their contingency thinking than we are. But we
                   wouldn't lie down without a fight, either."
 
 
 

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