July 7, 2006

The joys of reporting last:

The PAN candidate Calderon is claiming victory in Mexico on the strength of some very late-reporting precincts (i.e., coming in on Thursday following last Sunday's election) that just happened to be dominated by his party.

Ah, the joys of having the other guys' ballots counted first! Theodore White told the story of how he was hanging out with the Kennedy inner circle at Hyannisport the day after the 1960 election, with Illinois, and possibly the Presidency, still up for grabs. Missing were GOP precincts downstate and Mayor Daley's Cook County.

"Even in the most corrupt states of the Union, one cannot steal more than one or two percent of the vote... The AP was pressing its reporters for returns, and the reporters were trying to gouge out of the Republican and Democratic machines their vote-stealing, precinct by precinct totals. ... It was downstate (Republican) versus Cook County (Democratic), and the bosses, holding back totals from key precincts, were playing out their concealed cards under pressure of publicity as in a giant game of blackjack.

"... the AP ticker chattered its keys once more and reported: ' With all downstate precincts now reported in, and only Cook County precincts unreported, Richard Nixon has surged into the lead by 3,000 votes.'

"I was dismayed, for if Nixon really carried Illinois, the game was all but over. And at this point I was jabbed from dismay by the outburst of jubilation from young Dick Donahue, who yelped, 'He's got them! Daley made them go first! He's still holding back -- watch him play his hand now." I was baffled, they were elated. But they knew the counting game better than I, and as if in response to Donahue's yelp, the ticker, having stuttered along for several minutes with other results, announced: 'With the last precincts of Cook County now in, Senator Kennedy has won a lead of 8,000 votes to carry Illinois's 27 electoral votes.'

Later that evening, Kennedy told his friend Ben Bradlee of an early call from Daley, when all seemed in doubt. "With a little bit of luck and the help of a few close friends," Daley had assured Kennedy before the AP had pushed out the count, "you're going to carry Illinois."

Teddy White did not include this story in his romanticized Making of the President 1960, but did finally 'fess up in his autobiography.

By the way, the mirror image happened in the 1982 Illinois gubernatorial election between Republican Jim Thompson and Democrat Adlai Stevenson III. With the Daleys temporarily out of power, Cook County finally showed its cards first, leaving the GOP's Du Page County to come in four days after the election for a winning margin statewide of 5,074 votes. "Several young Thompson staffers were later convicted of vote fraud in that campaign," says Wikipedia.

Now, I would never claim that Mexican elections are as corrupt as Illinois ones, but, still, you can imagine why Lopez Obrador is not a happy loser at the moment.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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