The Bush Family In Maine - Proof That Every Vote Counts

In 1992, Maine was the only state where President George Bush came in third, behind Clinton, who carried the state, and Ross Perot. Ironically, on the day, almost at the moment Ross Perot was endorsing the younger Bush for President, someone was revealing the well kept secret that George W. Bush had been arrested for drunken driving in Maine in 1976.

Clinton carried Maine in 1992 with 263,420 votes. Perot ran second with 206,820 and Bush ran third with 206,504, only 316 fewer votes than Perot. Marrou, the Libertarian received 1,681; Lenore Fulani got 519 and Knight garnered 464. There were 91 other votes cast for president in Maine in 1992.

According to traditional election analysis and polling, the combined minor candidate total of 0.4% is well within the margin of error, too small to be noticed, and of no significance in the outcome of the race; the rationale used to deny minor party candidates places in debates or coverage in the mediaBut every one of the third party candidates: Marrou with his 1,681, Fulani with her 519, and even Knight with his 464 got more votes than the 316 vote difference between Bush and Perot.

The Bush Family has a vacation compound on the Maine coast, similar to the Kennedy compound at Hyannisport, Massachusetts. President Bush spent a lot of time vacationing in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Although Bush ran only 316 votes behind Perot, those votes were more than enough to put him in third place. Any coherent election analysis of the 1992 presidential election should have questioned why Maine, one of their "home" states where they have owned real estate and lived or vacationed for years, would be the only one where Bush ran third.

The answer came in the final week of the 2000 campaign when it was revealed that George W. Bush had been arrested for drunken driving in Maine in 1976. The irony is that Bushes explanation of keeping it secret to keep it hidden from his daughters was made on the same day he was endorsed by Ross Perot, who dropped out of the 1992 presidential race before jumping back in because he did not want the campaign to disrupt the wedding of one of his daughters. Here are two candidates, Ross Perot and George W. Bush, who are justifying major political campaign decisions by hiding behind their children. It's like Vice President Dan Quayle who ran on his brother's war record in Vietnam.

The DUI conviction of Bush would not matter except that he kept it secret, is a stickler for personal responsibility, especially in his intolerant execution of the death penalty in Texas, and has been running around the country accusing his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, of bending the truth.

For eight years, the Institute of Election Analysis has brooded over the significance of the 316 votes that put President Bush in third place in Maine in 1992. The last week of the 2000 presidential campaign will provide that answer. But one thing is clear. When more than 100 million people go to the polls to cast billions of votes, it would behoove people to pay close attention and to treat every candidate fairly in the campaign. The 2000 presidential election proves that every vote counts, even the 316 vote margin that separated President Bush from Ross Perot when they both lost in Maine in 1992. There is much more to election that just who wins and who loses. Elections are also about forming governments, determining policy, and even pointing to where the bodies are buried for future campaigns.

November 3, 2000

Return to Institute of Election Analysis Home Page

Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf