Thursday, July 19, 2012

Did SFN affect the election in 2000?

You may be wondering why SFN is so early this year.

I honestly have no idea, but I once heard the following rumor:

It seems that some members of the leadership of the society is very pro-Democratic, and were pretty un-thrilled about the possibility that SFN's timing swayed the 2000 election.

The 2000 election took place on the Tuesday of SFN, which was in New Orleans that year. Many people I knew told me that they forgot to do the absentee voting thing.

It's an established fact that academics are much more likely to vote D than R. And it's an obvious fact that the SFN meeting attracts mostly academics. It's a very likely assumption that most of the people who went to SFN and didn't vote but would have were likely to go for Gore.

[True that year, many blue-ish types went for Nader, but in FL, that was about 1.6% of voters overall]

In 2000, the total attendance at SFN was 25849.

I have no idea how many of those people were Florida registered; let's guess that it was the same as Florida's share of the US population in 2000, or about 5%. But of course, much of SFN attendance is foreign. Lets assume (back of the envelope here), 40% foreign and 60% domestic. Meaning 3% of the meeting was FL-based.

That would be 775 people.

Florida came down to 537 votes. [or less by other methods, possibly 493, possibly less still.]

(Although, we all know, it actually came down to one vote in the Supreme Court, etc, etc, complexity, complexity.)

[NM was even closer that year ~350 ppl, but (1) went for Gore, (2) had a smaller number of electoral votes, and (3) smaller number of SFN attendees]

Point being, they are approximations but they are on the same order of magnitude!!

Yeah, probably lots of those people did absentee ballots (I did not, but I was living in a pre-determined state at the time), and lots would have given their vote to Nader, and some would have voted for Bush, and yes sure probably evil Bushies like James Baker would have manipulated the election anyway. And yes if I had more time, I would research these numbers so I wouldn't be guessing.

But regardless it's amazing to me how the timing of SFN may have nudged the election of 2000 enough that it's conceivable it made the difference. [Im not saying it DID make the difference. But I am suggesting it was in the ballpark, unless one of my assumptions is unreasonable].

I like SFN earlier anyhow. DC is frigid in late Nov, and I hate flying to SFN and then flying to Thanksgiving right after that. But beyond that, I think the Society is doing the right thing by avoiding election day.

I just hope that the Ernest Morial Convention Center realizes this and, to make some money, offers a steep discount to the Society of Ohio+Virginia Tea Partiers, so that maybe they will get drunk at Harrah's and forget to vote in 2012.

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