|GETTING OUT THE VOTE|
November 2, 2000
In the unexpected battleground of Florida, the race for the White House could hinge on turnout. Both campaigns are urging their key constituencies to show up at the polls on Election Day.
TOM BEARDEN: For the past three weekends, dozens of Hispanic union members have met in this parking lot in Orlando, Florida, to get their marching orders for the day.
CAMPAIGN WORKER: Adios.
TOM BEARDEN: Then they break into groups of five, pile into cars and drive to their assigned precincts to deliver voter information about economic issues. They're trying to encourage people to vote in next Tuesday's election. Nidia Grajales is a Teamster, and a volunteer. Although small in size, she is big on energy. She practically runs from door to door. Originally from Colombia, she became a citizen just last year, and she will cast her first vote for a presidential candidate on Tuesday. She believes it's very important for Hispanics and union members to get to the polls.
NIDIA GRAJALES: And I count as a person; I count as an American citizen, and I count as a worker. And... we all together, as one, we can make them hear us.
|Voting on moral convictions|
TOM BEARDEN: Union members accounted for about 8 percent of the vote in Florida four years ago, but union leaders are trying to boost that to 11 percent this year.
NIDIA GRAJALES: -- give you some information - Okay. Thank you very much.
TOM BEARDEN: Although the pamphlet doesn't urge people to vote for one candidate over another because of election regulations, union members are expected to vote in large numbers for Al Gore. East of Tampa, in Brandon, Florida, church members received voting guides from the Christian Coalition. They contained information on the voting records of local, state, and national candidates on various social issues. They also don't directly endorse any one candidate.
REV. KEN ALFORD: I'm urging you to vote - not based on a man, not based on a party, and don't vote just based on the economy. Can I share something with you? Economic prosperity cannot last long in a morally corrupt society.
PEOPLE SINGING: Mighty warrior, test for battle...
TOM BEARDEN: The Christian Coalition is distributing three million of the guides in Florida. About 11 percent of the state's voters identify themselves as being evangelical.
PEOPLE SINGING: Lead us into battle to crush the enemy...
TOM BEARDEN: And the coalition's Terry Kemple says most of them are very likely to vote for George Bush.
TERRY KEMPLE: I think that the turnout will be high. I think the people are concerned; people are interested. They're really concerned about the moral condition in our country, and where our country is going. And I believe that people will go to the polls to vote for their moral convictions.
CHURCH MEMBER: Lord above all else, we pray...
TOM BEARDEN: Both labor unions and the Christian Coalition are highly motivated in the final days of the campaign. That's because all indications are the election will likely be won by the party that can get most of its core supporters to actually vote. Both camps are spending more than $60 million on mobilizing the base vote in battleground states. It's one of the few things on which both sides agree.
|A simple equation|
MITCH CEASAR: The race is a dead heat. Every poll has someone ahead by a point or two, well within the margin of error, obviously. This is a base vote constituency situation. Whoever turns out their folks at the polls wins; it's the simplest equation we've ever had to deal with.
LEW OLIVER: The media focuses entirely on the undecided voters. But if you look at a lot of these polls, on the order of 90 to 93 or 94 percent of the population has already made its decision, and really you're talking about talking about 5 or 6 percent. And the fact of the matter is that a 10 percent difference in turnout between Republicans and Democrats, with the advantage going to Republicans, is more significant and more useful to the Republican ticket than converting every one of the undecideds.
LEW OLIVER: It's one of the most important elections in a long time, and we want to make sure everybody goes out to vote.
TOM BEARDEN: Lew Oliver has been going door-to-door to personally to make sure Republicans turn out. As chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, he and 90 volunteers walked precincts last Saturday. Unlike the union volunteers, Oliver has sophisticated voting lists to target likely Republican voters.
LEW OLIVER: We've got one 43-year-old, Republican female, and a 60- year-old Republican female -- solid voting record across the board. These are good voters.
TOM BEARDEN: Oliver will use the same technique on election day to call registered Republicans. Poll watchers will keep track of who has voted, and at 2 PM automated phone messages will be sent to Republicans who haven't shown up. In Broward County, just north of Miami, Democrats will be using the same strategy.
MITCH CEASAR: We worry about telling our message, getting our people to the polls, and if we do a good enough job in south Florida, we'll win Florida. And if we...
WOMAN: That's what we need.
MITCH CEASAR: ...And if we win Florida, Gore is the next president of the United States.
TOM BEARDEN: But county Democratic chairman Mitch Ceasar admits he may have a slightly tougher job.
MITCH CEASAR: The Republicans turn out to a greater percentage. There are more Democrats, but Republicans are a little more disciplined, perhaps, than Democrats again. But we think we're going to hopefully do a very good job all across the state of Florida. The race is so close, that we need to do that to produce a win for the Democrats.
TOM BEARDEN: More disciplined or better organized?
MITCH CEASAR: I think they're more disciplined on an individual basis. I think what helps Republicans is of course they have a lot more money. They always outspend us in any election two or three times. Our strength-- what levels the playing field for us-- is that we're on the right side of the issues with the majority of voters.
TOM BEARDEN: Party officials are counting on specific issues to motivate different factions. Abortion, for example, energizes voters in both candidates' camps.
SPOKESPERSON: Everybody in this room who will cast their vote on November 7 for Al Gore - (cheers)
|Gays, minorities and immigrants|
BEARDEN: Many gay and lesbian Democrats are concerned about equal rights
and the future makeup of the Supreme Court. The Human Rights Campaign
Fund, a national gay and lesbian advocacy group, has spent nearly $150,000
to get gay voters to the polls in Florida. They make up more than 5 percent
of the state electorate.
KENDRICK MEEK: We want to make sure as many women and minorities definitely show up to vote
TOM BEARDEN: State Senator Kendrick Meek has launched a campaign to encourage African-Americans and other minorities to vote early. He's traveled throughout the state talking to workers during their lunch breaks. And although he thinks his constituents may not seem as motivated as they were eight years ago, when African-Americans cast 10 percent of the votes, Meek is confident enthusiasm will grow as election day nears.
KENDRICK MEEK: Supreme Court Justices will be appointed. The issue of affirmative action is at stake. The issues of equal pay for equal work is at stake - so you know - this whole issue of tax cuts and this is your money and states' rights and all of those issues that people are - sound good - we still have some of the basic governmental responsibilities that we're supposed to provide to all Americans, rich or poor, that we have not yet met.
TOM BEARDEN: Republican minority voters also have their hot-button issues. Cuban Americans leaders say the Elian Gonzalez case has motivated their constituents. They make up about 8 percent of the electorate in Florida.
TOM BEARDEN: Cuban activist Maria de la Milera:
MARIA DE LA MILERA: We are hoping to turn out 75 to 80 percent of our constituency. The Cuba issue is an issue very close to our hearts, and that will motivate any of us to do anything that we can for the candidate that really has... has expressed an interest on that issue. And George W. Bush has done that several times.
BUSH VOLUNTEER (on telephone): Hi, my name is Robin from the Bush campaign ...
TOM BEARDEN: Some observers think Republicans, in general, have extra motivation to vote simply because the Democrats have held the White House for the last eight years.
SPOKESMAN: We really appreciate your coming out today.
TOM BEARDEN: In Orlando, Republican county Chairman Oliver says he's stunned by the enthusiasm. Four years ago, he says 100 people volunteered to help the Bob Dole campaign in Orange County. This year, over 1,000 people have volunteered for the Bush campaign.
LEW OLIVER: The psychology of human voting is that when people are angry, upset and dissatisfied, that's a more powerful motivator to go out to the polls and vote than somebody who's generally satisfied with the status quo and thinks, "All right, well, this is okay." And when I talk to Bush voters and Republicans, uniformly their view is "This administration and everything associated with it has got to go. And we've got to do something about it."
SPOKESPERSON: And we're just calling everyone to remind them to vote...
TOM BEARDEN: In fact, some experts are predicting the overall turnout may be one of the lowest in American history. Clearly, both parties have their work cut out for them.