GOP Was the Real Victim in
By JOHN R. LOTT Jr. and JAMES K. GLASSMAN
John R. Lott Jr. and James K. Glassman are resident fellows at the
American Enterprise Institute. Lott has taught statistics and
empirical methods at the University of Chicago and University of
November 12 2001
Last week, detailed statistics were released on voting in Florida
during the presidential election. The data for the first time include
all of the state's precincts, with not just information on race but on
At first glance, the numbers confirm the disturbing claims, repeated
often this year, that African American ballots were "spoiled"--that
is, not counted because they showed either no vote for president or
multiple votes--at higher rates than the ballots of other groups.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was not alone in charging "a clear pattern of
suppressing the votes of African Americans." Much less detailed data
earlier this year caused the chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission
to call for a criminal investigation.
The newspaper consortium that has been recounting the Florida votes
will release a report today that is expected to highlight the racial
disparity in the spoiled ballots, giving a boost to reform bills that
are now moving swiftly through Congress to try to remedy the apparent
But if spoiled ballots do indicate disenfranchisement, then the new
data show that, by a dramatic margin, the group most victimized in the
Florida voting was African American Republicans.
We discovered this stunning twist in an extensive analysis of the new
The new findings show that African American Republicans who voted in
Florida were in excess of 50 times more likely than the average
African American to have had a ballot declared invalid because it was
These results take into account a wide range of factors that influence
spoiled-ballot rates, including education, gender, income, age, number
of absentee votes, voting-machine type, ballot type and whether votes
were counted at the precinct or centrally.
In other words, it is the isolated fact of being a Republican that
makes an African American vastly more likely to have his or her ballot
These results are disturbing. They show that, if there was a concerted
effort to prevent votes from being counted in Florida, that effort was
directed at Republicans, not at African Americans.
This conclusion conforms with another fact that the new data reveal:
Among white voters, Republicans were much more likely than Democrats
to have spoiled ballots.
In addition, we found that the overall rate of spoiled ballots was 14%
higher when the county election supervisor was a Democrat, and 31%
higher when the supervisor was an African American Democrat.
So, if spoilage should be viewed as disenfranchising African American
Democrats, the new figures strongly suggest that Democrats were
disenfranchising African American Republicans.
Some readers may be surprised that black Republicans even exist in
Florida, but, in fact, there are 22,270 such registered voters--or
about one for every 20 registered black Democrats.
This is a large number when you consider that the election in the
state was decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.
Because these Republicans were far more likely to suffer spoiled
ballots than other African Americans, the reasonable conclusion is
that George W. Bush was penalized more by the losses of African
American votes than Al Gore.
In the end, if there were intentional victims in Florida, they were
targeted not because of race but because of party.
The irony is that those who screamed discrimination the loudest may
have the most to hide.