Undercount Shows Ashcroft Will Lose

Florida's undercount controversy highlighted the importance of voter turnout.

For the past 20 years, the Institute of Election analysis has been tracking undercount in every race and has learned how to assess its significance.

On the basis of the 2000 election results, analysis of undercount would indicate that John Ashcroft will not be confirmed as United States Attorney General.

Missouri Shows The Way

In most elections, the presidential race gets the most votes. Not as many as the whole election, as Florida showed, but the most of any candidate's race. The presidential race is then usually followed by the Governor, then Senator, then the total votes cast for House of Representatives. Sometimes a state-wide office like Attorney General or Treasurer can rank high.

So, John Ashcroft has held all three of the highest offices in Missouri: Governor, Senator and Attorney General.

This year in Missouri, which was identified as an undecided swing state in the late polls, Bush won the state 1,189,924 to Gore's 1,111,138 votes, a margin of 78,786 out of 2,359,892 votes cast. However, Ashcroft lost with 1,142,852 to Mel Carnahan's 1,191,812 votes, a margin of 48,960 out of 2,361,586 total ballots cast.

Amazingly, 1,694 more ballots were cast in the Senate race than in the presidential race. This is a very rare occurrence. It shows that Missouri voters considered the Senate race in 2000 more important than the presidential race. Seeing as the people in Missouri were pretty sure that whoever they voted for would win the White House (as turned out to be the case) the fact that the senate race was seen as more important is quite significant.

The presidential race received 2,359,892 votes compared to 2,361,586 votes in the Senate race, compared to 2,346,830 in the Governor's race and 2,325,788 votes cast for the House of Representatives. When the voters of Missouri went to the polls, even before the controversy in Florida, they were sending the message that getting rid of John Ashcroft was even more important than who became president of the United States. It is also noteworthy that Mel Carnahan, a dead man, received the most votes of any candidate in Missouri. Carnahan received 1,888 more votes than Bush.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf