WASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission has generated some interesting trivia for Utahns to try on friends and family.
It comes from a book that the FEC compiles every two years with detailed results of federal elections. It has the boring title of Federal Elections 2000, but provides some fun facts within its 200 pages of charts. Try answering these questions:
1. Which state gave Democrat Al Gore the worst percentage of the popular vote in the nation in 2000?
Answer: Utah. It gave Gore only 26.34 percent of its vote. Gore's next worst state was Wyoming with 27.7 percent. His best state was Rhode Island with 60.99 percent. If Gore has any vindictiveness at all, maybe it's lucky for Utah that he lost the electoral vote.
2. Which state gave George W. Bush the highest percentage of the popular vote in the nation?
Answer: Wyoming (with 67.76 percent). Utah ranked only third for Bush with 66.83 percent.
How is that possible — since Utah gave Gore his lowest percentage? It comes because Utahns gave Green Party nominee Ralph Nader a significant percentage of its vote — 4.65 percent. Utah was the 11th best state for Nader.
3. Thanks to one vote from a Utahn, what man tied for having the lowest number of official votes for president of the United States?
Answer: Keith Lewis Kunzler wins that dubious honor. He had one write-in vote in Utah. Seven other people nationally also received one write-in vote each and had it counted and reported to the FEC.
Kunzler could not be located through phone directories and Internet searches for comment. It raises questions about whether maybe he voted for himself (and not even relatives would support him), or whether a friend wrote in his name as a lark. Either way, he remains forever on federal records as finishing in last place in the presidential election of 2000.
4. What other Utahn finished in last place among those candidates who managed to officially appear on ballots in at least one state?
Answer: That infamy goes to Louie G. Youngkeit, an independent. He appeared on the ballot only in Utah and received 161 votes. That was 50,992,174 fewer votes than Gore received and 50,454,995 fewer than Bush received.
Sixteen candidates nationally qualified to appear on a ballot in at least one state. Candidates from the Socialist Workers, Socialist and Prohibition parties did worlds better than Youngkeit. Also doing better was "None of these candidates" — an official ballot option in Nevada, which received 3,315 votes.
5. How many states dumped an incumbent U.S. House member in primaries in 2000?
Answer: Only two, and Utah was one. Republicans dumped incumbent Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, after much-publicized incidents where former staffers said he was mean and mentally unstable. He's considering running again for the seat now held by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who beat GOP nominee Derek Smith.
The only other incumbent dumped in a primary was former Rep. Michael Forbes, D-N.Y. The former Republican switched to become a Democrat — and then Democrats dumped him in a close primary.
6. Nationally, which party won the most total combined votes in all Senate and House races?
Answer: It was close, but Republicans won more votes nationally in House races and Democrats won more in Senate races. In all Senate races combined, Democrats won 36,786,166 votes to Republicans' 36,728,568. In the House, Republicans won 46,738,383 to Democrats' 46,593,126.
7. While Bush won the Electoral College vote (the one that counts) and Gore won the popular vote, how many states did each candidate win?
Answer: Bush won 30 states while Gore won 20 plus the District of Columbia.
8. After all the shouting was over, what was the final, official margin in Florida for Bush that elected him president?
Answer: 537 votes. Bush officially received 2,912,790 to Gore's 2,912,253.
Of course that means if just 267 Floridians had changed their vote, Gore would be president. No one should ever again say that his or her vote doesn't really matter in an election.
Deseret News Washington correspondent Lee Davidson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org