Wednesday, November 03, 2004

(Post? Pre?) Mortem 

I don't know what'll become of our little blog here, but while it's still here, I'm making this an open thread for our readers, such as they wish, to weigh in. Please leave remarks in the Comment window, and I'll post them up here.

Note: You'll have to excuse me if I'm not interested right now in the "mourning, picking ourselves up and moving forward" lines of thought. I'm interested in the "What the fuck, exactly, happened in last night's election?" line of thought.

Some topics:

1. Something Seriously Rotten in Ohio Thread

Can we put what happened last night in a little perspective?

a. The final projections for the popular vote either showed the race tied, or gave Bush a 2-3 point lead. He appears to have won the popular vote by about 3 points, so this isn't out of step with the predictions.

b. Several pundits were predicting that this time Bush would narrowly win the popular vote while losing the electoral vote.

c. The electoral vote seems to have come down to about 130,000 votes in Ohio. I don't have all the latest numbers on hand, but my impression is there are still several hundred thousand votes in Ohio that have not been counted yet. Now, maybe Kerry's advisers have parsed these numbers seven ways to sunset and saw no possibility for Kerry winning; or maybe, amid all the serious parsing of numbers, Kerry was pressured into conceding for all the reasons you might expect.

d. Court challenges in polling places across Ohio having the effect of turning away lines of voters. The fucking president of the corporations that makes the paper-trailless voting machines publicly promising to deliver the state for Bush, then "regretting" what he's said. I guess we'll hear more--hopefully a lot more--about this in the coming days.

e. Some of us--myself included--had been saying (mainly prior to the late-breaking wave of optimism for Kerry) that the chances for fraud and corruption inherent in Ohio and Florida--with the state election apparatus in the hands of GOP partisans hellbent on "delivering" for Bush; and especially with the black box voting, too widely reported on even to begin to summarize here--all but insured that Kerry would need to head in to the election with at least a 4 or 5 point lead in order to offset the fraud, vote-losing, vote-miscounting, etc. Well, Kerry apparently headed into the election leading by a point or two in Ohio and Florida; the exit polls showed Kerry winning those states by a single point; and you see for yourselves the outcome.

Check out this Kos diary: LIARS! All exit polls matched results except OH and FL.

A Kos reader comments:

Inspiration: Start a movement among all the supporting groups, all the 527's and public interest groups and volunteers and students and bloggers who put this fantastic presidential campaign together (we won! I promise you)and tell the Democratic Party: No more support until you find a way to guarantee real elections.

This we must do. Without honest elections, our democracy is OVER, and there is no use working on any other issue. I want to see Michael Moore and Bruce Springsteen and John Kerry and John Edwards dumping Diebold machines into Boston harbor. That's my vision.


2. Something Seriously Rotten in Florida Thread

Some commenters on the blogs are saying that this focus on the possible fraud in Ohio is misleading, because the real fraud was perpetrated in Florida, where the reversal from the exit polling has been even more striking. I don't have any information on this, but if you do, please pass it along.

From a Kos diarist:

So, we have 1.39 million new voters, and Kerry loses by 376,923 votes? Thus, he lost an overwhelming majoirty of them, or he lost an overwhelming majority of regular voters - much, much more than Gore lost.

We have 77,197 fewer third party votes, but Kerry loses the vast majority of these?

Exit polling numbers show that Kerry had more Hispanic and Cuban support than Gore did, and Kerry lost?

Most exit polls in Florida showed Kerry leading, yet he loses by a massive 5%?

3. Gay-Bashing Thread

A Kos diarist writes:

You can hear it in the media's codewords: this election did NOT turn on Iraq or the economy or security, it turned on "moral values", the politically correct code-word for theocratic values, i.e., placing one's religion above the laws of man. Exit polls show that "moral values" were the most common #1 concern among voters, and that among those who marked "moral values" as their primary concern, 80% voted for Bush.
A Kos reader comments:

Kerry did not win the Latino vote by what he needed and you can bet this issue played a role. In my own ethnic religious community, everyone opposes gay marriage. discussing equal rights or whatever does not move them. the govt. is sanctioning gay unions and that is unbiblical to them. Black voters (which white liberals seem to contiually want to deny the reality of) voted for the gay marriage amendments in larger numbers than white voters. the country isn't ready for this yet. it will be in 10-20 years when people of my Generation X get in power, but not now. these are reactionary times. folks are scared by so manythings. gay folks are scape goats. my mother told me today that when she told her church members she was voting for Kerry, they all yelled at her and said she was a bad Christian and that Kerry supported gay unions and abortion. they said she had been brainwashed by her radical daughter (me). she said moral values includes the war, and Bush lied about taking us into war. the pastor of the church also warned people on which way to vote based on the gay marriage shit. we are not white southern fundamentalists. we are immigrants, people of color, and part of the Democratic base, and they are vehemently for gay marriage bans.

Giuseppe Abote writes:

The most important issue for the GOP voters was not terrorism or the economy but "moral values." Everything becomes crystal clear when you see that. Wasn't everything Bush did for four years a sop to the Christian nationalists? In light of this, I think the true motivation for the Iraq invasion is especially clear. It was a gift to the red states that not only had nothing to do with fighting al Qaeda terrorists, but also had nothing to do with foreign policy in general. The whole point was to place the Christian nationalist voter in the vital center of a bloody struggle dictated by God against the infidel. Whether it went well or poorly didn't matter.

Which is why I think it is perfectly OK for me to say that although, yes, clearly, the Republicans ran a program of voter intimidation that might have swung the state of Ohio, they won the election by a margin beyond that trickery. Why did they win? Because they took an absolutely insane portion of the populace and riled them into a frenzy with an insane idea and an insane leader whom they believed to be chosen by God. And they only won narrowly! Think of the acheivement we've pulled off! We very nearly defeated a man who is believed by 1/3 to 1/2 of the nation to be God's representative on Earth! Who'd have thunk it?

This is exactly what gives me hope for the future. There's been some gloom and doom assesments of the future of the Democratic party. They're "regional." They have to "talk values." Nonsense.

The Republican party is split into two halves: one half is secular and elite and cares mainly about money; the other half is the Christian nationalist movement. Who here believes that the secular half is comfortable with the bargain they've struck? How hard could it really be to pick off a significant chunk of that half?

But in order to do it, you have to see very clearly that the solution is not to "talk values" in red states but to choose wedge issues that separate secular centrist Republicans (almost want to say "David Brooks Republicans" here) from the troglodytes. Stem cell research was an example of this. I know it wasn't enough to swing the election, but it's an example of an issue that made the David Brooks types wonder if the Christian nationalists weren't totally insane.

4. Canada Thread

Some Canadian Kossacks welcome us...

5. Media Death-Echo-Chamber Thread

An AmCop reader writes:


I am absolutely OUTRAGED that you followed Fox's transparently partisan rush to prematurely call Ohio for Bush, when the state was clearly too close to call, given both the margin and the number of provisional ballots waiting to be counted. Did you learn absolutely nothing from the experience of the 2000 election? Was it eagerness to compete with your competitors at Fox in the ratings war? Or was it laziness and sloppy journalism?

Perhaps in the end, either later this morning or tomorrow or Thursday, Ohio will go to Bush. Even if that should ultimately happen, it will neither validate nor excuse your scramble to put it in Bush's column. We learned in 2000 how important perceptions can be in close or contested elections, and how much the media can shape those perceptions and create a sense of inevitability with real political consequences. Intentionally or unintentionally, you may have just created a hurdle that is impossible for John Kerry to clear, as it is very likely that the Republicans will point to the fact that Ohio was "called" for Bush by your reputable news organization in order to quash any attempts to have all of the provisional ballots counted or investigate irregularities.

You have done significant damage to your reputation with viewers across the country. I for one do not plan to what NBC or MSNBC for news again, and I will encourage all of my friends and family to do the same. This will also influence my decision to buy General Electric products in the future.

To their credit, ABC, CNN and CBS have resisted the Murdoch-initiated stampede and taken a cautious, journalistically-responsible approach. To your everlasting discredit, you have repeated the same mistake in 4 years, and done grave harm to our democratic process. It is simply inexcusable.

Shame on you.

A concerned citizen


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