DAILY BRIEFING
Primary Numbers

Jan. 27 - The American primaries will dominate the news worldwide again today, as New Hampshire takes the spotlight. Expectations will be ratcheted up all day and then dashed all night.

New Hampshire has four electoral votes. It went to Bush in 2000. Try to keep that in mind while you watch the Democratic contenders whore themselves up and down the Granite State.

A week from today, primaries will be held in AZ, DE, MO, ND, NM, OK, and SC. (I abbreviate on the principle that if you can't deduce the state names from their postal abbreviations, you probably shouldn't be following American politics any closer than you already are.)

Here's how many electoral votes each of those states is worth, along with the state's winning candidate in the 2000 general election and the percentage of votes for the winner and loser:

AZ - 10 - Bush, 50.95 - 44.67
DE - 03 - Gore, 54.96 - 41.90
MO - 11 - Bush, 50.42 - 47.08
ND - 03 - Bush 60.66 - 33.06
NM - 05 - Gore, 47.91 - 47.85
OK - 07 - Bush, 60.31 - 38.43
SC - 08 - Bush, 56.84 - 40.90

And lest we get ahead of ourselves:

IA - 07 - Gore, 48.54 - 48.22
NH - 04 - Bush, 48.07 - 46.80

I ask you to notice only two things. First, that the total number of electoral votes "owned" by the nine states which will have held primaries or caucuses by next Tuesday evening is 58. (California has 55.) Second, that the Democrat's 2000 candidate won only one of those states by a comfortable margin (DE - 03), and was blown out of the water in four of them (AZ, ND, OK, SC - 28). Of the two states decided by mere hundredths of a percentage point, Gore won both—for twelve electoral votes.

In other words, the states responsible for "winnowing the field" of Democratic candidates are unlikely to net the party more than fifteen electoral votes this fall, and will probably give George W. Bush at least 28.

Battlefield Wisconsin (Gore, 47.83 - 47.61) carries eleven electoral votes all by its lonesome, but doesn't hold its primary until April 6—by which time the field will have been winnowed half to death.

Florida doesn't have their primary until March 9. It's probably safe to say the sunshine state's 27 electoral votes are important without any further elaboration.

What does it all mean? It means the Democrats' nominating process is being heavily influenced by states whose electoral votes are probably going to end up in the "R" column anyway.

Does Karl Rove love his job, or what?

* * *

A while back I posted a link to a Michael Crichton speech that I called one of my favorite "essays" of the last couple of years. On December 17, Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg, a primary topic of Mr. Crichton's speech and the author of the extremely controversial The Skeptical Environmentalist, was back in the press. The Danish Science and IT Ministry categorically rejected a Janusary 2003 determination by the "Joint Committee on Scientific Dishonesty" (paging Mr. Orwell...) that Mr. Lomborg had violated scientific ethics standards.

Anyone with an interest in science—a disinterested and scientific interest, not a faith—should find cause for celebration. If Crichton is right in his diagnosis of extreme environmentalism as the religious faith of agnostic urbanites, then maybe Lomborg is its much-needed Martin Luther—and maybe his 2930 footnotes will someday be remembered like Luther's 98 theses.

Maybe.

(And maybe I'll capture the NFL single-season rushing record...)

* * *

The first line of my only published book to date goes like this: "Thousands of years ago, a bunch of people got together around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and decided they would start Western Civilization, largely because they had no television or diet cola."

It's my only opening line, so I know it pretty well.

Think you know your opening lines? Try this quiz and see if you still think so. (I tanked.)

* * *

A reader wrote in over the weekend to remind me that, "The plight of the haggis is Scotland's dirty little secret but the US has its own. I am of course refering to the plight of the minces from Thanksgiving through Christmas. All of that mincemeat pie! Save the Minces!"

She was kind enough to spare me the details of industrial mince slaughterhouse practices, which I have reviewed online. The tiny, hairless minces are thrown into industrial blenders and chopped into a pulpy gristle, which is then blended with sugar and spices before being canned, jarred, or tinned.

"We bottle everything but the squeal," boasts one American mince bottler.

Unfortunately I can't begin a Save the Mince crusade, because my own father happens to be one of the nation's premier consumers of these bloody confections. He's fond of recounting boyhood stories of hunting for mince with his own father in the abandoned lots off Flatbush Avenue in his native Brooklyn, then bringing them home for his mother to slaughter, clean, and bake into steaming pies. It's a Rockwellian image of Americana that's been etched into my mind from years of repetition. Therapy hasn't helped. Damn that Rockwell—damn him!

So yes, please, by all means save the mince—eventually.

Just don't tell my old man I'm in on it.

* * *

Today is the birthday of Bridget Fonda (1964), Cris Collinsworth (1959), Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948), Troy Donahue (1938), Donna Reed (1921), Skitch Henderson (1918), William Randolph Hearst, Jr. (1908), Jerome Kern (1885), Lewis Carroll (1832), and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756).

It's Flag Day in Indonesia and St. Devote's Day in Monaco.

Happy Tuesday!

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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