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Presidents and hot dogs

"People who like hot dogs and presidents should not look too closely while either is being made. The post-election fiasco in Florida will certainly make the next president a bit tougher to swallow, no matter which side you're on.However, if we concentrate only on Florida's terrible after-taste, we will have ignored the real recipe for the making of the president 2000 and, indeed, the pattern for America's next generation of elections.The state-by-state election night map, shown by every television network, revealed a sea of Bush-colored states in the middle, fringed by Gore-colored states on the edges. Wrong map.If they'd shown a county-by-county map,we'd have noticed, with few exceptions, a vastly expanded Bush-colored sea, surrounding densely populated Gore-colored urban islands. More important, computer readouts of those islands would have found them producing 2 to 3 percent more votes than they had in the past.The reason is simple and devastating to Republicans. For the past couple of elections voters have been allowed to register at government facilities, such as motor voters registering when they get their driver's licenses. These are voters who seldom registered before and whose votes are almost guaranteed to go Democratic. They are the much-touted, last-minute Gore surge.They are why virtually every pre-election poll was off about 2 to 3 percent in favor of George W. Bush. These polls all interviewed most likely voters when they should have been talking to least likely voters. Turning out these least likely voters will decide every close election in the foreseeable future.Voter turnout is a job for the infantry, and the Democrats have the foot soldiers to do it. Party regulars and supporters of particular candidates. Trade Unions, teachers' Unions, even many government employees. Groups representing minorities, feminists, environmental activists. The broad coalition of social liberals.Don't shoot the messenger. We all know the team lineups. Besides, this is all within the democratic process. In fact, it's the very sort of thing American elections are all about. Citizens banding together to further their interests. If Republicans are on the wrong side of the equation, they'd better come up with a plan of their own.Republicans can certainly point to fraudulent votes by felons, illegal aliens and anyone wanting to vote more than once in our incredibly sloppy election system. Addressing these challenges is vital, whichever way those votes are going.But solving voter fraud problems won't help Republicans deal with the key ingredient in the Democratic recipe for victory: the addition of 3 to 5 percent (because they'll get better at it) new Democratic voters to the election pool.This includes Republicans in Island County. Don't think for a moment the Democratic turnout efforts are exclusively urban. About 10 days prior to the election I sat in Langley's Dog House Tavern, where the Democrats met to energize their local turnout forces. They seem to eat this stuff up.Previously close Republican wins will become Democratic victories. Previously comfortable Republican races will become competitive ones. If the GOP doesn't come up with an answer, and darned fast, they can kiss Congress goodbye in 2002 and the presidency in 2004.-------Paul Newman is a former college communications professor and the founder of a political research corporation that served two presidential campaigns. As a political consultant for more than 20 years he worked with candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress and governor in most states of the union. He is now retired on Whidbey Island. His weekly column, focusing on all things political, will appear in the Saturday News-Times. "

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