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Nicklaus beats Woods in Nationwide Election

May 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

NOTE: This is the first of two parts.

In one of the hardest fought elections on record, Jack Nicklaus, the incumbent, has retained his position as Golf’s Greatest of All Time. While returns are still dribbling in, this writer is calling the election at 12pm ET on May 22 for Nicklaus with perhaps 98% of the precincts reporting. For the nationwide state-by-state map, visit ESPN.

Over the last several days sports fans from across the nation and around the world cast their votes at ESPN’s Sports Nation. In the early going, Tiger Woods enjoyed the lead, but as the days wore on, Nicklaus, age 70, steadily gained ground and was able to finally push ahead of his 34 year old challenger.

Nicklaus’ attracted 51% of the popular vote while Woods settled for 49%. There were no other candidates in the running despite some mild protests that Pre-Modern-Era great Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and Ben Hogan deserved to be included.

The state by state voting was most telling. Nicklaus (51%) won California even though it is Woods’ home state. The experts believe that voters in the financially troubled state are still upset about Woods’ departure in 1997 to avoid state income taxes. He also said at the time of his move that he prefers Florida’s tropical climate, a sensitive spot for Californian’s, who take great pride in their climate.

Elsewhere out West, Washington (53%) and Nevada (52%) went to Nicklaus, while Woods prevailed in Oregon (52%) and Arizona (51%). Nicklaus scored some of his most lopsided wins in Utah (58%), which was no surprise as voters were upset with his philandering, Colorado (58%), and New Mexico (61%).

Woods biggest area of strength came from the Midwest as he prevailed in Minnesota (53%), South Dakota (52%), Nebraska (52%), and Missouri (52%).

It was expected that Texas would go to Nicklaus because Woods has not competed in the state since 2005, but he pulled off what many felt was an upset, capturing 53% of the vote in the Lone Star State, which attracted a huge turnout.

Nicklaus basically won the election by dominating the southern states. He won Louisiana (51%), Mississippi (53%), Alabama (53%), Georgia (57%), Florida (55%), South Carolina (57%), North Carolina (52%), Virginia (51%), and Tennessee (58%) in a landslide.

Nicklaus’ big win in Florida was no surprise considering that it is his adopted state, it is home to a large segment of retirees who grew up watching him, and residents were upset with Woods, who has been an embarrassment to the voters. Nicklaus huge margin in Georgia was also expected following his strong campaigning at the recent Masters, his six green jackets to Woods’ four, and Billy Paine’s rebuke of Woods prior to the start of play.

Woods scored big wins in Kentucky (55%), and West Virginia (58%). Along the Great Lakes, it was thought that Woods’ ties to President Obama would help him in Illinois, but Nicklaus (51%) won a nail bitter, much to the chagrin of the Woods’ camp. Indiana (53%) went to the Golden Bear, as did his home state of Ohio (55%), where his margin swelled in late voting.

In the heavily populated North East, the voting was close in key states. Pennsylvania went to Nicklaus (51%), while Woods took New York by the same margin. Woods was leading in New Jersey by a slim margin, but at the last moment a flurry of votes swung the tide in Nicklaus’ favor, and he ended up with 51% of the vote.

In New England Woods captured the sparsely populated states of New Hampshire (58%), Maine (55%), and Rhode Island (53%). Nicklaus prevailed in Massachusetts (51%) and Vermont (52%). The region was decided in Connecticut, the home of ESPN and Sports Nation, where 55% of the voters went for the incumbent.

The international vote, which made up about .8% all ballots cast, went to Woods, who edged Nicklaus with 51% of the total.

Part II
I’ll provide a detailed analysis of Nicklaus election to golf’s highest office.

Tags: Tiger vs. Jack


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