I have known syndicated columnist David S. Broder for a few years short of four decades. I was a source of his following the death of Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen and the subsequent leadership contest. He was very grateful for my head count. The only problem was mine showed Senator Hugh Scott (R-PA) losing the race for Minority Leader. Because of that Broder was very cautious in what he wrote about the race while his contemporaries had Scott elected. I fully expected an upset victory for Senator Roman L. Hruska (R-NE). He had been Dirksen's favorite and everyone knew that if Dirksen had lived through his fifth term it would have been his last and before that time he would have stepped down as Republican Leader and twisted arms for Hruska. But death only mid-way into that term interfered with such plans. I thought in Dirksen's memory the Senator from Nebraska would be elected. Indeed I was sure my Senator, who was quite conservative, would vote for Hruska. Following the vote he confided in me that he had voted for Scott.
After I had given Broder my bad count, based upon assumptions, I learned how to count votes. And from that day forward I never, ever made assumptions. Senator Gordon L. Allott (R-CO) taught me what you need to do to insure that you have the votes. First, you need to eyeball the Senator or Congressmen involved. Second, you need to have a colleague of the Member, who is on the side of your candidate but has not revealed where he stood, ask the Senator or Congressman. Third, you need to find someone in the state or district to ask the Member for whom he will be voting. Only then can you be sure.
In the race for Chairman of the Senate GOP Policy Committee Allott defeated Senator Robert P. Griffin (R-MI) by the exact number of votes of Senators who had been checked the three ways but one short of the Senators who had eyeballed Allott to say "I'll vote for you." The one vote was that of Senator Charles H. Percy (R-IL), who had told Allott face to face that he would vote for him but who would not give an answer to a colleague and who could not be verified back home. Allott assumed that Percy had not told him the truth and thus his vote count was on target.