According to a 1994 Washington Post-ABC News survey, 59% of people who have reported encounters with flying saucers prefer Ross Perot to Bill Clinton or Bob Dole. When I read that not long ago, in a "New Yorker" piece by Michael Kelly, I told myself that the important thing was to avoid panic. There was no reason to go around clutching perfect strangers by the lapels and shouting, "Do you realize that if only people with flying-saucer experience vote, Ross Perot will be President of the United States?"
It's true that we've had low turnouts before, but it isn't likely that we'll ever have an election in which only people with flying-saucer experience vote. If that ever happens, analysts will know early on Election Day because everybody walking toward the polling places will be pointing to something up in the air that the citizens still going about their business can't see.
I also wanted to avoid over-interpreting the decision of the Washington Post and ABC to dissect the political preference of UFO spotters in the first place. I assume that Perot has claimed that it was simply to embarrass him, a subtler version of polling people on the question "Which candidate can you most easily imagine rolling little steel balls around in his hand?"
The people who commissioned the survey will say the question was routine. They'll say that at a staff meeting the survey manager made his usual assignments: "Ed, you do angry white males. Mac, try to get a fix on which way the abortion issue cuts. Sandy, take a look at how the flying-saucer vote is breaking down."
And I wanted to avoid over-interpreting what the results actually mean. It's possible that Perot's appeal to saucer spotters has nothing to do with what commentators are diplomatically calling his temperament. Maybe, in one of the many public appearances he has made to say that the Reform Party is not about him, he said something considered favorable to those who believe in Unidentified Flying Objects. ("What you want to do is to get'em close enough so you can look under the hood. It's as simple as that.")
I would have had an easier time remaining calm about all this if the UFO question had been the only disquieting statistic about Perot I'd heard lately. But when I read Kelly's piece, I still hadn't digested a Perot statistic that I'd heard on David Brinkley's show. This one was about the 1992 election, in which Perot got 19% of the vote (counting both voters who have encountered flying saucers and voters who haven't encountered flying saucers). Apparently, when people are asked how they voted in that election, only 12% say they voted for Ross Perot.
I had tried to accept that finding calmly. Given the widespread speculation in the press recently about the possibility that Perot has always been a cuckoo bird, I figured that the discrepancy might be explained by the human tendency to remember what we wish we had done rather than what we did.
It's possible that a survey taken now among baby boomers would indicate that almost none of them wore either Nehru jackets or bell-bottom blue jeans in the late '60s.
Then a wise editor I'll call Howard offered another explanation: Maybe the people who voted for Perot in 1992 but now don't seem to be here were abducted by creatures on flying saucers. That makes an eerie kind of sense. It also makes it more difficult to avoid panic.
Original file name: .CNI - Time Mag.Perot v UFOs
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