Tuesday, November 09, 2004

P.S.



Here and here are just a couple examples of those fine, upstanding Republican "values" we've been hearing so much about.

I especially like the bit about Democratic congresswomen becoming "comfort women" for Republicans. Classy.

DO NOT let these people lecture you about morals and values.

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.

A week later


Hi folks,

I don't know what's more infuriating: the fact that we lost, or the ease with which the Left slipped -- once again -- into circular firing squad mode. I can't stand it. When Republicans lose, they don't spend months wringing their hands, rending their shirts, and searching their souls. They get mad and then, more often then not, they get even.

We lost. Either because the right screwed around with voting equipment (my jury is still out on that one) or because we failed to connect with 51% of Americans. But we lost. It's done.

I'm not going to do any Monday morning quarterbacking regarding the Kerry-Edwards campaign. The fact that they got (at least...) 48% of the vote against an incumbent who was pulling 90% approval ratings last year is no small thing. This was no landslide for Bush, and it certainly wasn't a mandate. We came close, just not close enough.

But I am going to say a little about the Left's pathetic performance from Wednesday, November 3rd onward.

We lose elections because we have become primarily a reactionary party. We are all too willing to let the right define us, and we then waste all of our breath either trying to justify our postions, or run away from them.

Why on earth are we letting the Republicans and their whores in the press rewrite the narrative of this election, spinning it into some sort of referendum on "values"?

Values?!! Anti-gay prejudice is VALUES?!!

On Day One after the election, when the Republican noise machine started pushing this crap into the zeitgeist, Democrats should have all been saying the same thing: "The Republicans are lecturing US about morals?!?!" Dick Cheney hands out no-bid contracts to Halliburton like Halloween candy. That's immoral. More than 1,100 U.S. soldiers and ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND Iraqi civlians have died in a pointless war. That's real immorality. That's evil. But fine, you want to talk about marriage? How about the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh; they're free to marry and divorce as many times as they want, but gay people in love can't get married even once?!! And don't even get me started on Bill Bennett and his "morals."

I can sum up the Democratic post-election talking points in a single word:

HYPOCRITES.

The Republicans are hypocrites, and most of them wouldn't know morality if it bit them in the ass; hell, they'd probably just mistake it for their well-paid dominatrix.

So why aren't Democrats pushing this point? Why are so many on our side fretting over us losing the "Heartland"? Why are we beating ourselves up and letting Republicans control the narrative?

If this election was really decided by voters coming out to vote against gay marriage, then it was NOT decided on "values." Period. It was decided on prejudice, fear, and misunderstanding.

HYPOCRITES. That should have been on every Democratic talking head's lips the day after the election. Values, my ass.

Christ, we really need our own Grover Norquist: someone who can sum up the most important message of the day, disseminate it, and ensure that the party is speaking with one voice.

Stop talking about winning over evangelists and born-agains and religious voters. You are enabling them, building up their power base. Look at it this way: no one group won this election for Bush, just as no one group lost the election for Kerry. The "born againers" were one voting bloc -- and it should have been obvious to everyone which way they would throw their vote. Both sides earned a percentage of every demographic, and by the looks of it, the Republicans' math beat ours.

Now we go forward. 2006 isn't that far away, and it's imperative that we take back the Senate -- and if we can't take back the House, we at least need to make some significant gains. We don't have the luxury of navel-gazing and self-flagellation. We need to get back on the horse and start fighting again NOW.

This blog is going to go away very soon. But I'm not. Keep an eye on therealitybasedcommunity.com. That's where I'M going to do my bit to carry on the fight. It will have a blog element but it will also, and more importantly, have some very specific goals. I'll need your help. I'll need lots of help, so if you have friends who are still crying in their beer, or are thinking about moving to Canada, smack them about the head a couple times and tell them to buck up.

The right-wing nutjobs may have won/stolen four more years in power. But that's it. We take back Congress in 2006, and in 2008 the White House is ours -- the People's House -- again. Yes, November 2, 2004 was a setback -- a major setback. But if we believe in what we stand for -- as a party, as a movement, as a cause, as human beings, as whatever -- then we will not let it stop us.

I'll put my values up against their values any day of the week. They're HYPOCRITES. And we need to call them on it.

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Final Lap

Hi folks,

I try not to look at polls anymore. Honestly. I know at this point it's not the stats that matter, but the ground game. And we seem to be running strong there; much stronger than in 2000 when we lost by a sliver (and a bit of Supreme intervention...)

But try as I might, I'm still hopelessly addicted to the numbers game. Much of the "blame" lies at the virtual feet of electoral-vote.com, a remarkable site that has made the twists and turns and ins and outs of our bizarre and anachronistic electoral college accessible to everyone -- and given political junkies an unprecedented (perhaps unhealthy) "daily fix."

[By the way, the "Votemaster" finally revealed his true identity today, on Election Eve. Go have a look.]

Well, with the election now looming like the blimp in Black Sunday and my political obsession reaching a fever pitch, today I took a closer look than usual at the state-by-state numbers and noticed something REALLY interesting.

First off, the obvious: today's map has reverted back to where it was this summer, with an electoral breakdown that seems to make sense intuitively and historically. Bush has a solid lock on the south and most of the midwest, while Kerry sweeps the west coast, New England, and the Great Lakes states. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan have all swung back to blue -- as they had been through most of the summer -- while states like Nevada, Arizona, and Missouri are all now comfortably in Bush's column.

Those with a decent memory will no doubt recognize that this is a virtual flashback to the final red/blue map from 2000 -- right down to the race in Florida separated by a single, statistically insignificant percentage point.

But run the cursor across the blue and swing states, and you'll notice another interesting parallel between the 2000 election and the way this one is shaping up: the final election tallies for Bush/Gore are almost identical -- to a point in many cases -- with the latest (last?) polls in this year's race.

People love to say, "9/11 changed everything," but the truth of the matter is that -- if the polls are to be believed -- it had virtually no effect on the electoral math of this nation. Check out these states as examples of, respectively, a "weak Gore," a swing state, and a "strong Gore":

MICHIGAN 2000: Gore 51.3, Bush 46.1
MICHIGAN 2004: Kerry 52, Bush 46 (Zogby)

PENNSYLVANIA 2000: Gore 50.6, Bush 46.4
PENNSYLVANIA 2004: Kerry 50, Bush 46

ILLINOIS 2000: Gore 54.6, Bush 42.6
ILLINOIS 2004: Kerry 54, Bush 42 (Survey USA)

But where the numbers do diverge, they swing in Kerry's favor almost without exception. In other words, and especially in the swing states, Bush is pulling the same percentages he was in 2000, while Kerry tends to do as good OR BETTER than Gore.

WASHINGTON 2000: Gore 50.2, Bush 44.6
WASHINGTON 2004: Kerry 53, Bush 44 (Rasmussen)

MINNESOTA 2000: Gore 47.9, Bush 45.5
MINNESOTA 2004: Kerry 50, Bush 45 (Zogby)

MAINE 2000: Gore 49.1, Bush 44
MAINE 2004: Kerry 52, Bush 44

Again, see how Bush's numbers haven't moved while Kerry has picked up support (typically between 2-3%) from Gore's run in 2000? Much of this can be attributed to Nader voters from 2000 throwing their votes to Kerry this time out. So can we finally bury the notion that Nader didn't cost Gore the election in 2000? He did, it's a fact, folks...deal with it.

So I think our confidence is rooted in reality: that Kerry will hang on to every Gore state, with the possible exception of New Mexico. But Gore won that state by only 366 votes, so it is in the truest sense a toss-up. It could come down to voter registration, or simply an anomaly in the way the votes get counted. (Or...I hate to say it...Republican vote suppression, given the high percentage of minority voters in the state.) But despite the dead heat shown by electoral-vote.com I think Kerry will carry New Hampshire this time -- worth 4 electoral votes versus New Mexico's 5...

But on The Randi Rhodes Show the other day, Governor Bill Richardson gave a bluntly honest assessment of Kerry's chances in New Mexico. No rose-tinted glasses here; he thinks we can win the state but it's going to take a lot of hard, hard work, and unprecedented GOTV efforts. I'm going to think positive, that we're up to the task this year, so let's believe that Kerry is going to build -- "Big Time" -- on Gore's win four years ago.

So we're talking about a solid foundation of 260 electoral votes (from "Gore" states) plus an extra four from New Hampshire, which is coming to its senses this year.

264.

Things are looking good in Ohio (20) and Florida (27). In the latter state -- with more than 30% of all projected votes cast -- we have a 51/43% lead already.

Colorado (9) is still a statistical dead heat. Arkansas (6) could well be in play. And though the last few polls have been discouraging, Kerry was running strong in Nevada (5) this summer, and I'd like to think it's still on the table...

That's it. That's where we're at. If it's EV-rich Ohio or Florida, we'll be sitting pretty. If it's Colorado or Arkansas, we squeak by. If it's Nevada, we're at a 269-269 stand-off, and I don't like to think about that because the House of Representatives selects the winner, and I see no chance of us taking back the House this year.

But if we sweep all of these states...

Wow. 331 Electoral Votes.

It's not impossible. In fact, it's quite possible.

SUMMARY: We merely hold our own: we're toast again. We hold our own and win ONE: we prevail. We hold our own and win 'em all: we've got a freakin' mandate.

Let's mandate.

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween Horrors

Hi folks,

I hadn't planned on posting tonight -- in fact, I made a point of not even logging on today. I needed a break from my obsessive poll-watching, and didn't think my blood pressure could take another revelation about Republican efforts at vote suppression. I actually took in a movie today (Primer: so much going for it, but ultimately a mess) and introduced my daughter to the campy pleasures of Land of the Lost now available on DVD.

But I couldn't stay away. I should have just gone to bed, but I decided I wouldn't be able to sleep without checking out the latest developments in the "Ground Game," with less than 48 hours to go before the election. And I found lots to feel optimistic about. We're in very good shape. In fact, if I weren't so superstitious I might even revise my electoral predictions from the other night and add a few to Kerry's column.

But no...there's just one thing I want to talk about tonight. Remember how "outraged" Lynne and "Big Time" Dick Cheney were about Kerry's mention of Mary, their lesbian daughter, during the third debate? Back then (all of two weeks ago) it was all about respecting their family, leaving them out of the campaign, not trotting their progeny out for political gain. Right?

Ah, what a difference a couple of weeks and some alarming poll results make...

(Before I launch in: credit where credit's due. I first heard about this story via Atrios and snagged the picture below from Steve Gilliard's blog. Many thanks to both.)

Mary Cheney is still effectively "back of the bus," despite her prominent role in her father's campaign, but Lynne and Dick are perfectly willing to trot out their grandkids to score a cheap political point. Today, the Cheneys introduced their 7-year old granddaughter Elizabeth at a campaign rally, saying she'd dressed up for Halloween as "John Kerry's health care plan." Here's Elizabeth with her dear-old granddad...



I can't think of a more perfect or more perfectly depressing image to sum up what this administration is all about. Their prime motivating force: fear of death.

And apparently the spectre of Osama bin Laden -- who should have been killed or captured a long time ago -- reappearing over the weekend wasn't enough for them. So Lynne and Dick thought nothing about putting a black robe and skull on their granddaughter, dragging her out on stage, and using her as a political prop.

I have a daughter who's not quite three. She desperately wanted to go as Tigger this year. An unscientific survey of her pre-school classmates on Tuesday revealed that most of the other little girls wanted to be Cinderella, a princess, or some variation on that theme. Even amongst the boys (some of whom are gleefully rude, rough, or both) who voiced their prefered costume, not a one cited the Grim Reaper.

In fact, I don't know too many seven-year olds who even know what the Grim reaper is.

So we're left with one of two possibilities, neither one of which is particularly pleasant:

a) The vice-president and his wife are perfectly willing to place political gain over their grandchild's enjoyment of the Halloween holiday,

or...

b) The Cheney family is so unbelievably fucked-up that, at 7, Elizabeth chose to dress up as a spectre of death.

I for one would like to give poor little Elizabeth the benefit of the doubt. So that leaves us with Option A: Dick Cheney, his wife Lynne -- not to mention Elizabeth's mother -- are the lowest, most loathesome sort of political opportunitists.

These people are (and believe me, I don't use this word lightly) a cancer on the body politic of America. I'd like to think that this is merely a sign of their desperation, but given Dick Cheney's relentless fearmongering throughout the campaign, this is merely a starker-than-usual example of their tactics and their philosophy. Imagining my daughter masquerading as death is just about the most disturbing thing I can think of. Seeing Dick Cheney chuckle at the reality of his granddaughter so dressed -- and encouraging his sheep-like followers to join in the fun -- is one of the most sickening things I have ever seen in my life.

In less than two days, we have the opportunity to run these people out of town on a rail. And who knows...maybe someday Elizabeth will thank us...for giving her the opportunity to dress as Cinderella, or Ariel -- or even Tigger -- next year...

Sleep tight, if you can...
Moonlighter.

PS. Think the Cheney's morbid exploitation of their granddaughter is an abberation? No...unfortunately, rabid right-wingers have the market cornered on introducing young people to Grand Guinol. See here.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Heeeeeee's Baaaa-AAAAck!

Hi folks,

I've seen a couple online postings praising the fact that both camps have decided not to acknowledge the OBL tape in a partisan political manner.

I see their point. But I disagree. Here's what I would have liked to have heard Kerry say:

"When I'm president, Osama bin Laden won't be making any more videos."

I don't care if it sounds like Dirty Harry rhetoric. And I don't care if it gets thrown back in our face in later years a la "Read my lips..." should Kerry fail to find OBL. What I care about right now is winning, and the fact of the matter is that the appearance of OBL's face alone is "terrorism" to a large part of the American electorate. Saying that we won't have to put up with his provocative bullshit can only be a plus for Kerry, in the moment.

The statement he made was forceful, but didn't draw a distinction between his way and Bush's; quite the opposite. It was all about "all Americans uniting" to defeat terrorism, or some such. Of course we're all on the same page. But Kerry saying, "When I'm president, Osama bin Laden won't be making any more movies," is a blunt and effective way of saying that the Bush administration has let our country be held hostage, emotionally at the very least, to a murderous madman.

Slep tight,
Moonlighter.

Hitting Back

Hi folks,

More than a few people today wrote me to gripe about the despairing tone of last night's post. Well...I'm sorry, but that was the point. This ain't gonna be easy, and we can't relax our guard in the next few days, even as things start to look positive for our side.

But I will start off tonight by reporting some good news: we won a small but significant victory in Ohio yesterday, as the vote challenges based on undelivered registered mail from the RNC were all thrown out today, apparently. The Daily Kos (as usual) has the best account of the affair. Go read now, if you need to have your faith in the electoral process restored, just a little bit.

Feel better? Okay, well, now check THIS out...

They will not go quietly into the night. They will do anything -- ANYTHING -- to stay in power.

And this is just the precursor to what we'll be up against in the last 72 hours, as BC04 rolls out the legal teams to challenge John Kerry's win.

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The October Surprise

Hi folks,

It's arrived.

Like me, you probably wondered if Karl Rove would be trotting out Osama bin Laden for the cameras right about now. Or maybe Bush would make a "surprise" visit to Iraq to cheer up the beleagured troops there. At the very least we should have had Tom Ridge announcing a new Crayola color in the terror alert system.

But the real October surprise has come under the radar. And it's a doozy. I hope you're sitting down...

...because we're going to lose.

Let me clarify: If Karl Rove's plan works, we're going to lose.

The story of Florida in 2000 was not hanging chads, or butterfly ballots, uncounted overvotes and undervotes. That's what the media focused most heavily on, but that was small potatoes. If you saw FAHRENHEIT 9/11, then you know what the real story was in Florida, in 2000.

The Republican party screwed thousands of African-Americans out of their vote. That's the story, the real story that the media decided was worthy of page A-23 if it was covered at all, while election officials studying tiny pieces of paper perilously attached to larger pieces of paper -- and flown-in Republican operatives rioting because of same -- were worthy of entire news cycles for weeks on end.

I highly recommend Greg Palast's book THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY. He's an American-born journalist working for the BBC. His research has appeared in great length in UK media. Some, but not all, of his research was reprinted in Salon.com. He leaves little doubt that George W. Bush's confidence regarding his chances in Florida in 2000 were based largely on his brother's efforts to suppress the vote -- particularly the minority vote.

Welcome to the United States of America, 2004. After four years of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and their cohorts running the country, "Florida" is no longer merely a state. It's a condition that's been imposed upon the entire nation. Or at least the parts of it whose votes might be up for grabs. Like the "Iraqification" of Iraq (and the "Vietnamization" of Vietnam before it) America is well on its way to being "Floridized." (And Sterling Hayden's rant in DR. STRANGELOVE suddenly takes on a new meaning...)

Have a look at this lovely broadside, making the rounds in Wisconsin:



And it gets even better when you look into the crucial state of Ohio. There's an effort there -- well-intentioned, I'm sure -- to make sure that eligible voters actually live where they say they live. We can thank Republicans for this "defense" of our most important democratic tradition:



And here's what "Jermaine" received from the Lucas County Board of Elections:



Jermaine has been given the opportunity to prove his residence because he refused a piece of REGISTERED MAIL sent out by Ohio Republicans.

Let me repeat that: Republicans in Ohio are sending REGISTERED MAIL to eligible voters, and if those voters don't sign for it they're being challenged on their eligibility to vote.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that most of this mail is being sent to districts with large minority populations.

So to sum up: Rove's October surprise is that the surprise actually, officially, arrives on November 2nd: "Surprise! You're not eligible to vote! Please step aside."

It's coordinated, it's systematic, it's going on in many swing states, and...I honestly don't know what the heck we can do to stop it all. I mean, obviously we can't stop it ALL -- but can we stop enough of it to make sure Kerry is elected, as he legitimately would be if all the votes were counted?

I honestly don't know. If you can take the day off on November 2nd, please volunteer to watch the polls. Even if you're not in a swing state. Make sure no Republican hires (they've got 3,200 of them in Ohio for $100 a day...) prevent registered, eligible voters from exercising their right.

But in the meantime, there are at least a few things you can do to make yourself feel a bit better. You might have noticed that Ms. Harrington's address is quite clearly printed on the form above. What's missing is her e-mail address:

utcr2004@yahoo.com

If you approve of her efforts, I strongly encourage you to contact her and tell her what a great contribution she has made to the democratic ideals upon which this nation was founded...

Look, here's the deal. I know each of you reading this knows at least one upstanding, well-meaning person who, for whatever reason, believes the Republicans best represent their values. I know several. We need to confront them with this information. We need to stop being accommodating and understanding, trying to convince them on "soft issues," and simply let them know: your party is the party of voter disenfranchisement and flat-out racism.

It's time to take the gloves off. We may not change their votes -- but we may change their attitude when this election goes into the courts, as it seems destined to do. Even if we can't convince them to vote for Kerry, we need to at least make sure they know that a Bush win at this point is based entirely on lies and vote suppression.

Because here's a conservative outlook for November 2nd:

Hawaii 4
Washington 11
Oregon 7
California 55
Minnesota 10
Iowa 7
Illinois 21
Wisconsin 10
Michigan 17
Ohio 20
Pennsylvania 21
Washington D.C. 3
Maryland 10
Delaware 3
New Jersey 15
New York 31
Connecticut 7
Rhode Island 4
Massachusetts 12
Vermont 3
New Hampshire 4
Maine 4

That adds up to 279. And that's writing off six states where Kerry stands a strong chance: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Florida. Those states add up to 55 EVs.

John Zogby was on THE DAILY SHOW tonight, apparently saying the race is Kerry's to lose. He's wrong: it's OURS to lose, if we let Republicans prevent eligible American citizens from voting.

This is the test of our generation, of our lifetime. To protect the State of the Union from our own worst elements. This is nothing short of a second, only more subtle, Civil War. In the 1860s those on the wrong side of history and morality tried to shatter our unity. Today, people representing the same regressive values are trying to shatter the very institutions that have defined us for 228 years.

Let's save the country again. Jim Crow has no place in the 21st century. Let your Republican friends know not just who but WHAT they're voting for.

I have had enough. The South will NOT rise again. And when John Kerry's in office, he's going to put it in its Goddamned place.

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Post 2: The Fix Is In???


Hi folks,

This is a post I've been meaning to compose for weeks now, but I've been having trouble finding the right way of framing it. I feel like the context is still eluding me, but with only two weeks to go before November 2nd, I can't sit on it any longer. So bear with me.

First up, let me again praise Steve Soto of The Left Coaster for his continued, careful analysis of the numbers behind the numbers in Gallup's polling results. Despite his detailed breakdowns of the demographics of their samples, which diverge significantly -- and always in ways beneficial to Republicans -- from the actual turnout in the last few presidential elections, Gallup continues to be regarded as the "most respected" polling firm in the country by several media outlets, most notably CNN.

But Steve Soto's latest post leaves little doubt that Gallup's polling methods are deliberately unrepresentative, designed to give the GOP an edge. Read the post; it's important -- and damning.

I've discussed this at length with a few family members and friends, and they all seem to regard Gallup's distortions as an effort to sway public opinion; and with that in mind, several have asked me if I really thought polls could make a difference in the way the public (undecideds, really) will vote on November 2nd.

Yes, I do. People like to back a winner, like to feel like they're part of a positive trend. And let's face it, with such a stark choice this year, many undecideds must be looking for ANY reason to pick a candidate. In fact, I imagine the large number of undecideds this late in the day is in large part DUE to the closeness of the race throughout the year.

But I don't think that's the primary reason for Gallup's skewed polling samples.

Please have a look at this site: vote2004.erpioste.com. It's an exhaustive account of many (though probably not all) of the Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters and discourage turnout in this year's Presidential election.

Maybe you've heard about the ripped-up Democratic registration forms in Nevada. Or the Ohio Secretary of State's insistence that registration forms submitted on anything lighter than 80-weight paper stock would not be valid. Or a Fox News crew telling students in Arizona that they were "breaking the law" by registering fellow students to vote -- when they were, in fact, most assuredly within the law. But if you see this ever-growing list of Republican dirty tricks in total...

Well, I have to say, it's the first time all year that I've felt truly pessimistic about our chances. I do think Kerry will win handily -- if all the votes are properly counted. But the Republicans are stooping to new lows this year. And frankly, they don't care who knows it. Their voter registration effort in South Dakota was embroiled in scandal, forcing six staffers to resign. Even the former governor - a Republican himself -- condemned it. What happened to the staffers?

The Republican party in Ohio immediately snapped several of them up to help with their voter registration efforts in that all-important swing state...

By all accounts, the Kerry campaign has already amassed a truly impressive roster of lawyers -- I've heard the number 10,000 bandied about, when speaking nationally -- to help them defend against these underhanded, disenfranchising tactics. But I just don't know if it will be enough. I'm beginning to get the feeling that we're fighting on so many fronts that we can't possibly prevail.

And those polls? Here's my point: I see them as a way of inoculating Republican candidates against charges of vote fraud. If the race LOOKS tight in the final week or two of the campaign, then either candidate could claim a legitimate victory, right? But wait, isn't that what recounts are for...?

Welcome to the wonderful world of electronic voting. Why do you think the companies who make the devices and the software have been fighting tooth and claw to prevent states from introducing printouts -- a paper trail that could verify votes in the event of a recount?

When you buy something, don't you usually want a receipt? When you make a deposit at an ATM, don't you want a receipt? Yet these companies insist that their systems are so perfectly designed that a paper trail -- a voter receipt, essentially -- is unnecessary.

Maybe this sounds like "tinfoil hat" conspiracy theory stuff. But bear in mind: both Max Cleland and the Democratic governor of Georgia were favored to win their races in 2002. Both lost by remarkable last-minute upsets -- swings by as much as 16 percentage points according to some polls. And that was the first election in Georgia with widespread use of electronic voting machines. And the first time in more than 100 years that the state elected a Republican to govern it.

I should probably mention here that days before that election, a representative from the company (Diebold) that made the election devices "upgraded" the software on the machines without notifying the state, and the machines were not retested and recertified before the election.

Oh, and some enterprising online sleuths discovered an unprotected Diebold FTP site hosting a number of files with very curious names. Names like "robgeorgia."

Don't believe me? Go to blackboxvoting.org and read about it for yourself.

The secretary of state of Florida -- Glenda Hood, the 2004 equivalent of Katherine Harris -- has actually made it illegal to do any kind of recount on electronic voting machines in that state, despite the fact that another state law (which came significantly into play in 2000) requires that a recount be done if the margin of victory is too narrow. Now you see why I wrote earlier that Kerry should have just written off Florida this year...?

Look: as long as the polls are close, the conventional wisdom will always be, "Anything can happen." And as long as it seems like "anything can happen," the Republicans will stop at nothing to ensure that their victory does "happen." I believe that's why we're seeing these heavily-GOP skewed voter samples in national polls, and why several "surprise" polls have sprung up in states like New Jersey and Maryland (which have invested heavily in electronic voting technology -- despite warnings about their flaws). Both seem to have fallen back into the Dems' column, which is where they belong, but I can certainly imagine Republicans' dredging up those outlier polls to justify their "win" if Bush suddenly and inexplicably comes out ahead on the 2nd.

Sorry to anyone who thinks this limb I'm going out on is just too thin or crazy. But again, check out vote2004.erpioste.com and see for yourself the lengths that Republicans are going to this year to keep turnout low at the polls, especially in swing states. High turnout traditionally means more Democratic votes. So we need to make sure that no one is discouraged from voting because of doubtful polls, or any other reason -- especially intimidation.

If you live in a swing state, please consider becoming a poll monitor. Or volunteering for a GOTV campaign on November 2nd. Or if you live in a state that has early voting, encourage left-leaning friends to cast their vote ASAP. We have momentum on our side. And yes, we have a lot of lawyers in our corner. But we should consider them a last resort. The important thing is to make sure that our side turns out in unprecedented numbers, and to stop any efforts to disenfranchise voters ON NOVEMBER 2ND.

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Post 1: The Ground Game


Hi folks,

Two weeks. We're now at T-minus 14 days and counting. I've got a couple things to post about tonight. First off, where the race is at and where it's likely to go.

As always, I hope you'll take a look at electoral-vote.com if you haven't already. Most of you will probably be viewing the October 20th results, but on Tuesday, October 19th, they had the race at Kerry: 284, Bush: 247. That feels pretty good, frankly, heading into the homestretch against an incumbent who's running as a "war president."

But in the late afternoon, Zogby (who came closest to calling the final results in 2000) released a set of polls taken in key swing states. These polls weren't reflected in today's electoral-vote.com map, but I expect they will be tomorrow. If the election were held right now, these polls would mean bad news for our side. Because Kerry would only win 264 electoral votes.

But the election isn't today. Yes, time is short, but a lot can happen in two weeks -- just look at any online graph tracking the polls over the course of this year's campaign. And Kerry has two very strong things going for him, neither of which were predicted by political analysts around the time of the two conventions. One is the genuine anxiety about the potential for a reinstatement of the draft next year. To be fair, that may be out of both candidates' hands if they hope to restore some degree of sanity to Iraq. But the second should have been foreseen and prevented by the Bush administration, and that's the shortage of flu vaccines. It may seem like a trivial issue after 9/11 and with a war raging. But people don't like getting sick, especially when it could have been avoided. I've had several colds this year already, and the last one really knocked me on my ass. If that strain really starts making the rounds, you're going to have even more pissed off voters than there already are...

Anyhoo...let's do some math. Here are the states I see Kerry winning, without a doubt. Why? Because according to the latest polls he's up by 5 or more percentage points in all of them:

HAWAII (4)
WASHINGTON (11)
OREGON (7)
CALIFORNIA (55)
MINNESOTA (10)
ILLINOIS (21)
MICHIGAN (17)
PENNSYLVANIA (21)
WASHINGTON D.C. (3)
MARYLAND (15)
DELAWARE (3)
NEW JERSEY (15)
NEW YORK (31)
CONNECTICUT (7)
RHODE ISLAND (4)
MASSACHUSETTS (12)
VERMONT (3)
NEW HAMPSHIRE (4)

That adds up to 238 electoral votes, 32 shy of victory.

Now let's look at the list of states that most analysts say are still in play:

NEVADA (5)
NEW MEXICO (10)
COLORADO (9)
IOWA (7)
MISSOURI (11)
ARKANSAS (7)
WISCONSIN (10)
OHIO (20)
TENNESSEE (11)
FLORIDA (25)
NORTH CAROLINA (15)
VIRGINIA (13)
WEST VIRGINIA (5)
MAINE (4)

Those states have a combined total of 157 electoral votes -- a pretty decent playing field for Kerry, you must admit. And he's already ahead in four of them, according to Zogby:

NEW MEXICO (5)
IOWA (7)
WISCONSIN (10)
MAINE (4)

Unfortunately, those four states are only good for 26 electoral votes -- 6 shy of the 270 he needs. But he does have momentum in other states, and he's within the margin of error in several, including ARKANSAS and EV-rich FLORIDA.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how Kerry ought to play this final round, so feel free to add to the Comments section. Here's my take on the race:

Forget FLORIDA. Jeb Bush proved in 2000 that he wouldn't let "his" state go to anyone but his brother, no matter what. I know it's tempting because the race is so deadlocked there, but it would do my heart good to see Kerry write it off and focus his energies on less corrupt electoral opportunities.

So shore up those leads in NEW MEXICO, IOWA, WISCONSIN, and MAINE to ensure at least 264 EVs fall into Kerry's column. All of them are states that went for Gore in 2000 (though NM and IA were by razor thin margins) so we should be able to hold them.

Then pour everything else you've got -- and bear in mind: the Kerry campaign has done a remarkable job keeping pace with Republican fundraising -- into three states: OHIO, NEVADA, and...ARKANSAS.

NEVADA alone would only bring us to 269, which would mean an electoral tie with Bush. The House is likely to stay in Republican hands, so they'd surely give Bush his second term -- clouded in doubt just as his first was. But the proposed nuclear waste dump in NV is a very contentious issue, with a lot of Nevadans pissed at Bush for reneging on his promise to sign off on it only if the science assured its safety. The science was inconclusive at best, but Bush has decided to push ahead anyway. This is a state that's swung from blue to red and back again by small margins throughout the year. Kerry has a real chance there if he can connect with voters on this issue in particular.

But he'd still need another state. Many have opined that OHIO is likely to be this year's FLORIDA, with the race being decided by the way this Rust Belt state, that's lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, will turn. It's still in Bush's column but the momentum seems to be on our side, so it's entirely plausible that Kerry will eke out a win there once those all-important "undecideds" finally make up their mind.

ARKANSAS, however, might just provide another prime opportunity -- especially if the Big Dog -- Bill Clinton -- is well enough to campaign there in the final week of the race. It's never quite tipped into Kerry's column, but it's teetered as a toss-up for months now. The Kerry campaign hasn't expended too many resources there, as far as I know, but a little bit of attention and a lot of love from the state's favorite son could make a real difference there. Clinton won his home state handily in '92 and '96, and if he can convince his fellow Arkansans of the benefits of a Kerry presidency, we might just prevail there.

And given the likelihood of behind-the-scenes trickery in OHIO, we need to have one backup state to nudge us over the 270-line... The R's might not see ARKANSAS coming, and at this late date might be hard-pressed to counter a Kerry effort there. Plus...with IOWA nudging MISSOURI from the north and a blue ARKANSAS to the south, we might just stand a chance of keeping MO competitive too.

However you look at it, the race is going to be a nail-biter. So whatever you're able to do -- contribute, volunteer, etc. -- do it. Let's not wake up on November 3rd wondering what more we could have done to prevent 4 more years of Bush...

Sleep tight,
Moonlighter.