One day last May, I assigned the election to John Kerry. I said it early, and often. As I looked more, I saw that it shouldn't even be close. I said that in this space more than once. Now I am so sure that I am not even going to bother to watch the results tonight. I am going to bed early, for I must rise in the darkness and pursue immediately an exciting, overdue project.
Besides, if I was up, so many people, upon seeing every word I said of this election coming true on television in front of them, would be kissing my hands and embarrassing me with outlandish praise. So I go to bed with total confidence. I will get up and stroll to other meadows. I invented this column form. I now leave, but will return here for cameo appearances. And I leave today as the only one in America who from the start was sure John Kerry would win by a wide margin. Let me tell you why.
This began when I noted that it was obvious, but overlooked that George Bush had lost the last election by 500,000 votes. He was close enough in Florida for it to be stolen in court.
The reason he was close was that Ralph Nader had 125,000 votes in Florida, most of whom would have voted for Gore.
Anybody who had voted for Gore four years ago would never vote for Bush.
So Bush started this campaign behind 500,000 votes.
Nor is there Nader. He has reduced himself to being the village idiot.
When I figured in the people shocked by the dead bodies of young Americans in Iraq, and brutalized here by unemployment, there was no way to make the election seem close. I said this in this newspaper several times.
Each time as I was typing, the words of the late great Harry (Champ) Segal kept shouting in my ear:
"Go naked on this one!"
When published reports showed a million new voter registrations in Florida and about 800,000 in Ohio, I made the election a lock. They were not rushing out for George Bush. And these poll takers were ignoring them. Any part of a million votes in Florida, most of them of color, would sweep the state.
The reporters said the nation was divided. They were afraid to say anything that might upset this view. You've been had by the news industry. Not once, even after the first debate when Kerry scored a technical knockout, did they take a step and call it as it happened. "War of Words" was the closest they could come.
Finally, one thing kept clawing at you. Cell phones. Long I have wondered how many there were. Everybody I know, smart people, politicians, news directors, thought that there were, oh, 40 million or so. I call the cell phone institute in Washington last Sept. 12. They told me that there were 165 million cell phones in use in the United States, That is 165,000,000. One month later, I asked again. It was up to 170 million -- 170,000,000. Yes, a great number also had land lines. But of this 170 million cell phone users there were 40 million between the ages of 18 and 29, and these people usually have no other phones.
That had to be Kerry.
Not one cell phone in the United States had been reached by a political poll. These old-line poll takers don't know who cell phone users were or where they lived.
So you were getting CBS/New York Times polls proclaimed as most important and real. One hundred seventy million cell phones and you don't poll one of them. The polls they are pushing at you in the news magazines, on the networks, in the big papers, are such cheap, meaningless blatant lies, that some of these television stations should have their licenses challenged.
They have a poll number for every one of the "battleground states." I'm awaiting the casualty list from Gettysburg.
Then a night or so ago, somebody finally tried a poll of cell phone users between the ages of 18 and 29. John Zogby conducted the survey in conjunction with Rock the Vote and the results showed Kerry at 55 percent and Bush at 40.
Then the Kerry people ran their own poll, which took a lot of work. It was the first time they had reached any cell phone users. The result was Kerry 59 and Bush 39.
Then I saw on television yesterday, and I hate to single him out, but he singled himself out, this fellow Bill Schneider on CNN and he is their election expert and he said that cell phones didn't mean anything. He's right. They didn't mean anything in 1950.
Oh, but these young people never vote, the tales read. They will this time, and because of a one-word issue.
Every time Bush, or one of these generals he has, stands up and says there will be no military draft, everybody young figures this means there probably will be one by January, which will put them in the real battlegrounds. They rush to register, and then today they go to the polls to vote.
Thanks for the use of the hall.
© 2004 Newsday, Inc.