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Acrimony has reached zenith

Commentary by Steve Flowers

As the November national election day approaches this Tuesday, a good many of you are saying thank goodness. Politics has always been a vicious business, but this year may take the cake. It seems that the party divide and acrimony have reached a zenith peak or should we say a new low. The partisan divide is deep and bitter. The ads are slanderous to the point of being comical. The middle of the road independent swing voters are the battle ground and they have truly been bombarded.

Anyone who says they know who is going to win is grossly uninformed. The only thing Americans have decided is to wait to decide. Ninety percent have decided. However, 10 percent are waiting to show their hands. Polls say the race is too close to call and regardless of the national horse race numbers, the polls are meaningless because under our Electoral College system it only matters how they are fairing in the close swing or battle ground states. As I have often said, the Electoral College is an archaic antiquated system of electing or should I say to select our President. If it were a true election, the person with the most votes from all 50 states would be elected. It is wrong that your neighbors’ vote in Florida means more than your vote in Alabama.

Alabama has become a solid Republican state as far as Presidential politics. If Bush carries Alabama on Tuesday as is expected, then we will have voted for the Republican for President 10 out of the last 12 Presidential elections. That’s quite solid and predictable. It makes Presidential candidates ignore us and spend all of their time and money in swing states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I predicted that these three states would decide the Presidency six months ago in my column, and I stand by my prediction.

Let me remind you of a few political caveats as you watch the last week develop. A poll is a snapshot of that day, and it takes a few days to do a poll. Therefore, any numbers you hear on the news today are stale. There is also a three-point margin of error in the poll. A clearer picture will be revealed by the looks on the faces of Kerry and Bush when you see them going to vote on Tuesday morning. They will have seen the tracking poll from the night before and know what’s going to happen. However, the race may be so close that no one will know how it will fall.

The one factor that may have been overlooked is the Ralph Nader factor. Nader got close to 4 percent of the vote in 2000, and probably cost Al Gore and the Democrats the White House. Nader is predicted to get only 2 percent nationwide. However, the election may be so razor thin in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida that if Nader gets even 1 percent he may very well tilt the state to Bush and thus the Presidency as most of the Nader vote is not for George Bush. It should be an interesting night; I hope we can get an outcome by Wednesday morning so we don’t go through a nightmare month long debate and ordeal like four years ago.

The state elections do not hold the same suspense or interest as the Presidential race. Although some of the local races around the state hold as much interest to Alabamians as the Bush/Kerry race. There are some good district attorney, judicial, and county commission races which should be close and interesting. The Judicial state races are worth watching. There are three seats up for grabs on the State Supreme Court. Two of the three are vacancies.

The primary group that both parties have focused on this year has been young voters, 18-25. Historically, they have had a dismal voting turnout, about 25 percent on average. Both parties have targeted them in hopes that they can increase their participation and win them over to their side. It will be interesting to see if they vote. They are busy getting their life organized and careers and families begun and are generally turned off by politics. The voting participation increases with each decade of life. That’s why older voters get the most interest from politicians

See you next week.

Steve Flowers writes a weekly syndicated column on Alabama politics. He served 16 years in the Alabama House of Representatives. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.