25. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Congressional Affairs (Manatos) to the Counselor of the Department of State (Nimetz)1

The Administration’s Cyprus policy has severely damaged the President’s support among the Greek-American community. Greek-Americans are the only major group in the country who contributed large numbers of certain Republican votes, dollars and influence to the election of President Carter. As the attached memorandum documents, without that switch of support in the marginal states it is very likely that Gerald Ford would still be President.2 For the first time in history, the Greek-American vote is something other than one of the small ethnic groups whose support it would be nice to have.

A survey of top Greek-American political observers estimates that if the election were held today President Carter would receive approximately thirty percent of the Greek-American vote. That compares with approximately eighty percent he received in 1976. This defection may not be immediately perceptible but is quite real.

The group’s perception of betrayal accelerates the Greek-American’s natural drift to Republicanism. This drift does not include the well educated who are involved in politics—Sarbanes, Brademas, Alexander, etc. The drift includes the middle class, upper middle class and upper class—the majority in the United States—who tend to be conservative.

Unlike the Ford-Nixon Administrations, we have some advantages in our effort to gain support with the Greek-American community. The Greek-American Capitol Hill and Mayoral leadership is in our party and is willing to encourage Presidential support if they can do so without losing their credibility with the Greek-American community. We also have greater policy flexibility than did Kissinger/Ford/Nixon because we are not constrained to act in a way which justifies the decisions which led to the Turkish invasion.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of Southern Europe, Records of Counselor Nimetz, 1977–1980, Lot 83D256, Box 1, POL 2 Cyprus 1977 and 1978. Eyes Only. A notation at the top of the page, presumably written by Manatos, reads: “Some of the political information I touched on the other day. I thought you might be interested.”
  2. Attached but not printed is a November 23, 1976, memorandum from Manatos to Senator Eagleton. Citing electoral data from Ohio and Pennsylvania, Manatos argued that Greek-American support for Governor Carter was crucial to his successful run for the White House.