LaRouche in U.S. electoral politics

Official Presidential primary results, 1996 (state by state). LaRouche received about 600,000 votes in the states where he was on the ballot. If there had been Democratic primaries in every state and he had succeeded in getting on the ballot in every state, he would possibly have received a million votes or more.

Official Presidential primary results, 2000 (state by state). LaRouche did not do as well as in 1996, since the primaries were somewhat more competitive (Gore vs. Bradley); however, he did better than he should have (32,000 votes in Pennsylvania, or about 5%, for instance). In two states where Bradley was not on the ballot and LaRouche was Gore's sole opponent, LaRouche did especially well. In Oregon, he received 39,000 (11%) and in Arkansas, he received 53,000 votes, or 21.5%.

Official Presidential general election and primary results, 2004 (state by state). (Scroll down for primary results.) LaRouche's percentage of the vote declined even further in a year in which multiple candidates hotly contested the Democratic nomination and in which many remained on the ballot even after Kerry won the early primaries. In Arkansas, where LaRouche and Dennis Kucinich were both on the ballot against Kerry, they split the knee-jerk opposition vote almost evenly and LaRouche's total was 13,500, in comparison to the 53,000 he had received four years earlier. In states with more candidates on the primary ballot, his vote tended to be trivial. One example is Idaho, where Al Sharpton received more votes than LaRouche.

Dennis King on LaRouche's Democratic primary record. Analysis of the LaRouche vote in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Inroads under the radar screen. Four LaRouchians win seats on the central committee of the Alameda County, Calif., Democratic Party (2004), with one of them garnering 19,000 votes. These victories are reminiscent of the LaRouchian victories in county committee races in Illinois in the 1980s. Nobody paid much attention and then, bang, LaRouche's minions were all over the news in 1986 after winning statewide primaries in 1986.

Grassroots campaign rhetoric. Texas LYM activist speaks at state executive committee meeting of the Democratic Party, skates along the edge of anti-Semitism (now you see it, now you don't) with a denunciation of the "Rohatyn crowd of private financiers."

Those who should know better but don't. Longtime Penn. state representative endorses LaRouche for President in 2004.

Large campaign donations for LaRouche. Center for Responsive Politics reports that as of mid-2003 LaRouche had raised almost $5 million for his 2004 campaign. CRP spokesman describes LaRouche as a candidate with a "substantial following." But although LaRouche can bring in the bucks, the 2004 Presidential primary tally shows that his fundraising support does not translate into many votes in a primary cycle in which multiple candidates hotly contest the Democratic nomination.

"Meet Me in St. Louis." The elderly LaRouche on the campaign trial (2003) with an apparently well organized series of events and enjoying a certain degree of backing from local black politicians. Did they know about the past ties of LaRouche (Farrakhan's closest white ally) with the Ku Klan Klan and apartheid South Africa's Bureau of State Security? Would they have cared if they did know?

Combative tactics. LaRouche followers in New Hampshire (early 2004) heckled Howard Dean and (no surprise) Joe Lieberman. Incident led to physical altercation with comedian Al Franken (the author, in 1986, of Saturday Night Live skits making fun of Lyndon). Franken emerged the victor.

"The 1986 LaRouche Debacle in Illinois." Political scientist writing in the Illinois Political Science Review (1995) slams Democratic Party hacks and the media for ignoring the LaRouche movement's infiltration of party primaries in the mid-1980s. The surprise victories of LaRouche followers in two 1986 statewide primaries were a key factor in Adlai Stevenson III's defeat in the gubernatorial race that year.

A grassroots candidate with his own personality. Web site (2001) of LaRouchian congressional candidate in Massachusetts.

Getting down with the masses. LaRouche submits testimony to Boston City Council re heating oil prices (Dec. 2000).

"LaRouche Candidates Poll Big Vote" (Ballot Access News, May 31, 1994, item #23). LaRouche candidates in Democratic primaries polled 45.6% for U.S. Senate in Indiana, 41.2% for Governor in Ohio. The folks who predicted in 1989 that LaRouche's organization would collapse once he and several of his key followers went to prison were curiously silent about these vote totals.

Red-brown anti-Bush coalition in Michigan? Leftwing congressman John Conyers speaks at LaRouche PAC meeting in Detroit (2005). And why in the world did the president of UAW Local 849 address this meeting? (Includes picture.)

Red-brown coalition in California? Hollywood leftist Ed Asner attends 2004 LaRouche rally, praises Lyn for having a "progressive" agenda.

Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee 2008 website. LaRouche may not run this time but his followers and his PAC will attempt to intervene in various other ways.

Dennis King on LaRouche's "Homer vote"

LaRouche's 1996, 2000 and 2004 Presidential primary tallies (see above) confirm what I have been saying for decades about the LaRouche electoral machine: that its results represent in large part a knee-jerk opposition vote in races where LaRouche is the only alternative (or the best known of more than one minor alternatives) to the mainstream choice. The LaRouche vote may express an exasperation at the status quo in general or simply a personal dislike of the mainstream candidate. In addition, a small percentage of the LaRouche vote may come from people who don't know and don't care about Presidential candidates but are only voting because campaign workers for a specific local candidate hauled them to the polls. (Such "know-nothing" voters are probably more important, however, in producing a significant vote for obscure candidates for offices other than President--as when a LaRouche candidate in Illinois with an "American" name did better in a 1986 statewide primary than a machine candidate, not much better known outside Chicago, who happened to have a foreign-sounding name).

It would be foolish, however, not to recognize the existence of a certain affinity for LaRouche among some conservative or populist-minded white Democrats and more recently among black Democrats, which manifests itself in races where one can safely cast a protest vote since the conclusion is already foregone. (Note that a small but significant percentage of black voters may actually think LaRouche is black, because he circulates literature comparing himself to Martin Luther King.)

This affinity trend may embrace a significant number of very elderly voters, both white and black, who remember the Great Depression and respond to LaRouche's claim that he is the new FDR who will protect them from impending financial doom (LaRouche has made scores of dire predictions over the years about a looming depression, then has pointed to minor economic downswings as proof of his prescience). If LaRouche could get large numbers of seniors to give him their credit card numbers in the 1980s, it should not be difficult to comprehend how he has managed to persuade more than a few to give him their vote in more recent years.

LaRouche's decades-long investment in politically protean TV informercials and his massive year-in/year-out distribution of lurid campaign literature has created an impression that although he may have some peculiar ideas he is nevertheless against the status quo (and the Jews). I believe this has produced for LaRouche and his companion candidates a quasi-ideological (if somewhat inchoate) base of people who are friendly disposed but not actual followers. These are the people who vote for LaRouche or candidates identified as "LaRouche Democrats" in non-competitive primaries but rarely in primaries where "every vote counts."

One might call such individuals the "Homer vote"--after Homer in "The Simpsons" who exclaimed in a memorable episode: "Oh, no. Aliens, bioduplication, nude conspiracies. Oh, my God, Lyndon LaRouche was right!"

The primary tallies for 1996, 2000 and 2004 suggest that LaRouche made a shrewd long-range decision in 1979 to enter the Democratic rather than Republican party. The relatively small numbers of conservative-minded Democrats were less set in their thinking than conservative Republicans and had no strong structure within the party. Thus they were (and those left in the Democratic Party as of 2007 probably still are) more suspectible to the peculiar synthesis of leftwing and rightwing rhetoric that LaRouche has crafted as the cover for his fascist ideology. (The Republicans by contrast know how to keep their Homer types on a short leash.)

Today, with the Iraq war polarizing the country, LaRouche can get the best of both worlds by appealing not only to the Homers of middle America but to the Homers in Birkenstock sandals on the party's crazy left, who are obsessed with conspiracy theories involving neo-conservative Jews and Israel.

If LaRouche succeeds in his current effort to recruit a new generation of full-time cadre from the college campuses, and if he (or his successor) deploys them to participate in grassroots electoral politics on the large scale his organization attempted in the early and mid-1980s, then we may once again see LaRouchian candidates garnering 30 percent or more of the vote in scores if not hundreds of local and statewide primaries around the nation.

So, local Democratic leaders, beware the "Homer vote." Otherwise you may have to say, "Oh, my God, Dennis King was right!"

More to come