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Monday, September 15, 2008

Stealing the Battleground

It was a rough week for the McCain-Palin ticket, topped off by a bad weekend. They took a beating on the Sunday talk shows, Karl Rove got a little off message and told FOX News Sunday that the McCain campaign are "attributing to Obama things that are … beyond the 100 percent truth test," and the news broke that Alaska is still pursuing a federally-funded "bridge to nowhere."

The problem with running a campaign of lies is one of probability. The more lies you tell, the more likely it is you'll be called on some of them -- the more lies you tell, the more likely it is that some will come back to bite you in the ass. Both McCain and Palin sport bite marks today. And it's beginning to look like Palin's honeymoon may be ending.

Open Left:

The Research 2000 poll for dKos released Sept. 11 shows Palin at 52% favorable, 35% unfavorable, a 17-point net positive. Over the next several days look at the trend:

Sept. 11: +17 point net positive

Sept. 12: +14 point

Sept. 13: +9

Sept. 14: +5

Palin's unfavorables are up to 42 while here favorables are down to 47. Her Charlie Gibson interview and generally bad press for the McCain-Palin ticket are taking a toll. Here are Barack Obama's net positives for the same four days: 16, 16, 14 and 15 today. Joe Biden: 19, 19, 18 and 16 today. As for McCain, a similar pattern to Palin only not as steep a decline: 11, 13, 12 and 9.

This backs up what I've been saying all along; McCain's current poll numbers are artificial and, as such, not extremely good. He got a bump after the Republican National Convention and a bump from his selection of an unknown as VP and he still can only manage a tie.

So I repeat, McCain's behaving as if he weren't winning -- probably because internal polling and analysis shows that he's not. Everything he does reeks of desperation -- the untrue attacks, the false boasting, and now this:

The Capital Times:

A lawsuit filed by the attorney general [for the State of Wisconsin] Wednesday has the potential to slow down voting lines in what promises to be a staggering turnout for the Nov. 4 election, local voting officials said.

"It will disenfranchise voters. That's what we're concerned about," City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, filed the lawsuit Monday in Dane County Circuit Court to get ineligible voters off the rolls. It calls for a court order mandating the Government Accountability Board to cross-check voters who have registered since Jan. 1, 2006, when federal Help America Vote Act legislation required that states implement a voter database to cross-check voter registrations with Department of Transportation, criminal and death records.

The move could disenfranchise legitimate voters who've registered since 2006. In what I'm sure is a complete coincidence, that includes people who came into the system as part of a huge pro-Obama voter registration drive. Did I mention that Van Hollen is a McCain co-chair for the state? I probably should've. In their original reporting of this suit, the Republican-friendly Wisconsin State Journal skipped over that unfortunate fact. Really, you don't need to know that, nothing to see here, please move along and get on with your lives.

It looks like Van Hollen is bowing to pressure from the party. The Badger Herald reports, "The GOP wanted to cross-reference the million or so total registrants since January 2006, but Van Hollen believes the checks should apply to about 240,000 people who registered by mail and didn’t have to provide original identification, Justice Department spokesman Kevin St. John said."

But hey, a quarter of a million may be just enough to let McCain steal the state. Especially when you consider that many of these people won't find out they've been "dis-registered" by the state until they get to the polls. The city clerk for Madison, for example, says "the city will have to send letter to voters whose registrations are questioned, which the [Government Accountability Board] has found to be more than 20 percent. The voters will have to clear up the discrepancies, and then the city has to run the information through another check."

"And as the election approaches, the phones at clerks' offices get busier, so people calling back to resolve discrepancies will be less likely to get through," we're told.

This could mean long lines and long waits at the polls as voter after voter slows things down with provisional ballots. This will be more of a danger in cities, where people are more likely to vote Democrat, than in rural districts without big populations. If the lines are long and slow enough, a lot of people will give up and not vote.

All of which is supposedly to solve a problem that doesn't actually exist -- wide-spread voter fraud, specifically by illegal immigrants. It's a stupid fear if you give it just a moment's thought, but Republicans have relied on people who don't think for years. In May, the New York Times editorial board wrote, "There is no evidence that voting by noncitizens is a significant problem. Illegal immigrants do their best to remain in the shadows, to avoid attracting government attention and risking deportation. It is hard to imagine that many would walk into a polling place, in the presence of challengers and police, and try to cast a ballot."

Like I say, if you think about it for just a second, you see how ridiculous this fear is. For all their freaking out over people voting illegally, no one -- absolutely no one at all -- can come up with one instance where fraud had any effect on an election, either in Wisconsin or any place else. But here Van Hollen is, working to disenfranchise legitimate voters to chase away phantom cheats. And all eight weeks before a presidential election.

Here's an interesting question; which is more important, keeping people from voting illegally or allowing people to vote legally? The Republican party, J.B. Van Hollen, and the McCain campaign seem to believe that your right to vote isn't extremely important. Better to stop something from happening that's never happened anyway. It's not just Wisconsin, things like this are happening in battleground states across the nation.

It's so blatant, so transparent, so underhanded and lousy and shameless, that you need to ask yourself -- is this the action of a co-chair who believes his candidate is winning?

Or is this just a desperate attack on democracy by a campaign that believes they can't win any other way?