Rove’s Fox News Meltdown

Karl Rove’s incredulous response when Fox News called Ohio for the president on Tuesday night has attracted considerable scrutiny. Most pundits saw it as a garden variety case of wishful thinking. If someone wants something to be true strongly enough, he can believe it even in the face of overwhelming objective evidence to the contrary. But this explanation leaves some troubling questions unanswered.

Rove is a numbers man. He’s been a close student of political polling for three presidential election cycles, and as even his most vehement detractors concede, he is extremely intelligent and a consummate pragmatist. Ohio was by far the most heavily polled swing state during this election cycle. From the beginning of the campaign, the overwhelming majority of polls showed the president ahead. In the closing days his margins appeared to be increasing, with an average lead of roughly three percentage points. If the polls were correct, they foretold an almost certain Obama win in Ohio. Rove was surely following them closely.

He was also surely aware of well-documented biases that caused many polls to understate the President’s support. Some, for example, call only landlines, missing many Democratic leaning younger voters who have only cellphones. Most polls query respondents only in English, a practice that understates the likely participation of Hispanic voters. Many employ automated robocalls with limited repeat calls to non-respondents, which tilts samples toward Republican older voters, who are more likely to pick up their phones.

And then there was the vaunted Obama ground game. Long before the election, even Republican strategists acknowledged its significant advantages over its counterpart in the Romney campaign.

In an earlier post, Mark speculated hopefully that these factors might boost the President’s national popular vote margin by several percentage points relative to election-eve polls. Of course, many conservative pundits insisted that published polls were biased in the opposite direction, arguing that Romney supporters were more enthusiastic. But none offered persuasive objective evidence for that claim.

Rove might have hoped that Republicans would turn out in unexpectedly large numbers in Ohio, but it strains credulity to insist that he felt sure that Romney would prevail in an honest count of the votes there. Having witnessed Rove’s Fox meltdown live, and after having reviewed clips of it several times since, I find it hard to believe that Rove’s astonishment at the Fox announcement was feigned.

So if Rove REALLY thought Ohio was in the bag, we seem forced to choose between an implausible claim and a disturbing one: Either he is much less competent than anyone has reason to believe; or else he knew of some secret advantage that would tip the vote count in Romney’s favor by several points. Ohio, in any event, was the only swing state in which the president’s final margin—1.9 percent—was smaller than forecast by the final round of polls.

Author: Robert Frank

Robert H. Frank is the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management and the co-director of the Paduano Seminar in business ethics at NYU’s Stern School of Business. His “Economic View” column appears monthly in The New York Times. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos. He received his B.S. in mathematics from Georgia Tech, then taught math and science for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Nepal. He holds an M.A. in statistics and a Ph.D. in economics, both from the University of California at Berkeley. His papers have appeared in the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and other leading professional journals. His books, which include Choosing the Right Pond, Passions Within Reason, Microeconomics and Behavior, Principles of Economics (with Ben Bernanke), Luxury Fever, What Price the Moral High Ground?, Falling Behind, The Economic Naturalist, and The Darwin Economy, have been translated into 22 languages. The Winner-Take-All Society, co-authored with Philip Cook, received a Critic's Choice Award, was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times, and was included in Business Week's list of the ten best books of 1995. He is a co-recipient of the 2004 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. He was awarded the Johnson School’s Stephen Russell Distinguished teaching award in 2004, 2010, and 2012, and its Apple Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005.

65 thoughts on “Rove’s Fox News Meltdown”

  1. Either he is much less competent than anyone has reason to believe

    This one, if you insist. I accept that Rove is an intelligent man, but even intelligent men can have moments of incompetence.

  2. I’d guess it was just frustration. The man was sitting there watching Obama win the election, and being on national TV he was forced to act at least somewhat nice and respectful while it happened. But that’s not Rove, so he briefly lost it.

  3. The racism of yesteryear has come full circle in our county. The entire world embraced our choice of a black President four years ago and most nations of the world still support him. The fringe elements of Republican sect have crept through into the mainstream once again with conservative mouthpieces planting the seeds of hate. The only doubt lies here at home rooting from bigotry. Watch the white hands paint Obama in Blackface at

  4. But was it “real”? I agree, Rove should be able to slice and dice Ohio counties with the best of them. So when I watched Megan Kelly walk down the hall and say “When we rehearsed this yesterday, my sound cut out right about here” indicating her wireless headset, I assumed it was just theatrics for the audience. It was great TV. Kept the audience watching, even though their team was losing. Yes, I switched over to watch them suffer and loved what they were doing.

  5. I think Bain bought the voting machines, told the software to bump numbers up within the margin of poll error, but POTUS GOTV overwhelmed the amount of cheating.

  6. The implication of your scenario #2 is that Rove believed Ohio was rigged for the GOP, and was flabbergasted to find out that his cronies hadn’t managed to rig it quite enough?

    Even though I regard the GOP as generally venal and full of jerks, I don’t really believe in conspiracy theories like this one. Rove may be a deplorable person on many levels, but without evidence, we can’t accuse him of things he hasn’t done.

      1. Except that Rove is not stupid, and was always highly competent in the past.

        Rove has been around long enough that the Obama strategists were very savvy about how he operates, and I;m sure he was a major factor in their strategic thinking. They weren’t going to let him pull any of his stunts if they could help it. And in NE Ohio, they could help it.

        1. He could just be getting old. He’s just about the age when white men start to noticeably lose their edge.

          All that cholesterol plaque building up — all those years of not having been challenged much — he’s kind of always been the picture of flabby obtuseness that afflicts so many bespoke-clad WASP men.

          And now his dotage is beginning, so I’m not sure why anyone would be taken by surprise at last Tuesday’s babbling.

    1. Rove has a record of rigging (College Republican) elections, engaging in not merely dishonesty but criminally fraudulent behavior, etcetera. There’s no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Still, I don’t think we’ve got good reason to suspect actual corruption of the voting system exits - though we have a very real need to make it a lot more difficult; that is, every vote should be cast on a voter-auditable permanent paper ballot. Digital entry is fine, if it produces a readable paper receipt that is submitted as the actual ballot, but direct-digital-recording is not acceptable.

      1. I would settle for optical mark readers without a receipt, on condition of an audit of 10% of the machines. That is, 10% of the machines have their records checked by manual counts. If there is any discrepancy between the audit count and the machine count, 100% of the ballots are re-counted.

        1. Digital direct entry means that recounts are meaningless. The “recount” is a re-examination of the tally on the hard disk. This is why the ballot must be something the voter can examine, not some bits on a hard disk.

    2. So the GOP controled state government twisted itself inside outto prevent likely Democratic voters from being able to vote but the party wouldn’t stoop to actually rig machines that are proven easily rigable?
      I won’t even go into past evidence of just that kind of shenanigans. The list would go on and on and I’m not even a student of this stuff. Suffice it to say that when the GOP controled congress under GW Bush appropriated money to pay for computer voting machines for the USA to be baught from companies that supported the GOP they didn’t do it because the systems were secure. Look into this stuff and restore your faith in conspiracy theories. It will raise your hair.

    3. I don’t know whether Rove was responsible, but the number of complaints of voter suppression that we got from Ohio and Pennsylvania at the Obama Voter Protection Hotline made me fear that Romney had been spending so much time in PA because he knew he could steal it, something I’d already been fearing about Ohio. Rigging the voting machines? Probably not-and not necessary. Simply failing to find people listed in the registration roll (though they’d registered)was enough to force many voters to vote provisional ballots, which were likely to delay the outcome at least, and make it seem suspicious at worst. Simply turning away people who didn’t have photo i.d., though none was required, would actually diminish Obama’s margin. The shenanigans of the Republicans in these two states and in Florida were clearly designed to swing the swing states away from the voters’ intentions. I know it’s not healthy to despite people with whom we have to share a polis, but it’s a disease we contract from them.

  7. I am mystified by the mystery here. Rove has made a career of lying and then, when his lies are found out, of doubling down on the lie. He’s had fantastic success with this, and I suspect he’s succeeded again. Do you really think he’s damaged his reputation by his performance on Fox News? I think he enhanced it, because I don’t think his reputation is based on spreading dispassionate, factual analysis. Remember: “We create reality.”

    1. No, he did damage his reputation. Mainly because Romney lost, and lost bad. Millions of dollars down the toilet. Rove had a plan, but in the end it couldn’t be executed, and that accounts for his genuine shock.

      “Conservative activist Richard Viguerie said in a statement Wednesday that ‘in any logical universe,’ Rove ‘would never be hired to run or consult on a national campaign again and no one would give a dime to their ineffective Super PACs, such as American Crossroads.'” Reuters.

      1. Very good point about Rove not being hired again. I’ll add to my predictions for 2016 (the other being that the first debate will never be ignored again) and say that the superpac “thing” will not be anything like it is now. Even if Citizens United stays in place I think that the amount of money that gets poured into these things is going to shrink drastically…….especially now that all these old white men have flushed so much money down the toilet.

      2. Rove will be hired again, if not so lavishly. His sort always are. There’s any number of celebrity “election consultants” who haven’t won a seriously contested race in decades but seem always to be popping up associated with one campaign or another. Once they’re too obviously tainted to run the big campaigns, they migrate to the smaller ones, or the fringe campaigns hiring them for the combination of notoriety and (oddly) “seriousness” that comes with associating with an advisor who’s been around the block a few times. It’s always fun to read the news stories about how this or that weird Senatorial candidate or third-string Presidential candidate is buddying around with one of them.

        But, yeah, Rove’s not likely to get complete control of tens of millions of semi-anonymous money again. I hope he skimmed off enough to keep himself happy for a while.

  8. I’m going with incompetence: both on Rove’s part, and on the part of whatever GOP operatives were meant to rig the votes in Ohio (and wherever else). First, to Rove’s incompetence, let us simply look at the margins that he was able to procure for his patron, George W. Bush: GWB won the presidency by the narrowest of majorities in the past century, which hardly attests to the political acumen of Karl Rove. Second, to the efficacy of the GOP vote rigging apparatus: if the GOP had been able to effectively rig the votes since the installation of all-electronic voting machines in the early 2000’s, does anyone seriously believe that they would have been able to restrain themselves enough that they rigging wouldn’t have been patently obvious? Even if you think that the GOP vote riggers would have been able to keep their rigging subtle, do you really think that they would have allowed Democrats to take back the house and Senate in 2006 and 2008, much less the Presidency in 2008? Certainly they would not have been able to resist tipping the Senate back in their favor in 2010.

    I like a good conspiracy theory as much as anybody, but conspiracies require competent conspirators, and the current generation of Republicans just don’t fit the bill, not even Karl Rove.

    1. You cannot say that the narrow margins of Bush victories “hardly attests to the political acumen of Karl Rove”, if without Rove he would simply have lost. In fact, in 2000 he clearly did lose, but fortunately for him Rove had a Plan B.

      As to your second point: “if the GOP had been able to effectively rig the votes since the installation of all-electronic voting machines in the early 2000′s, does anyone seriously believe that they would have been able to restrain themselves enough that they rigging wouldn’t have been patently obvious?”

      Patently obvious to whom? What is decisive is the consensus, which is “ratified” by the mass media. In 2000 and 2004, the consensus was that such things just didn’t happen in the USA. Since then, the consensus has shifted; GOP voter suppression tactics are even openly advocated (not under that name of course) by the GOP itself. The consensus,even with the MSM, is that the GOP are trying to exclude legitimate voters. The public has gotten much more sophisticated about demographics and polling. Ohio was in the spotlight, the polling margin was too great, Husted was under great suspicion, and everyone knew that Ohio was Romney’s only possible ticket to victory. It was too risky, and finally it became clear that Obama would win anyway.

  9. Rove’s argument was particularly naive. My reaction was the same as yours.
    I think that what may have really happened is that Husted decided the game wasn’t worth the candle. The margin was too big to monkey with. It would have been too obvious, and not only that, it became clear that Ohio wasn’t going to swing the whole election anyway. In other words, Obama would have won anyway. And Husted was already under a lot of suspicion for unilaterally changing rules on provisional ballots at the last minute. They were watching his ass. So on the one hand, Rove’s discomfiture was genuine, but not the reason for it.

    1. Yes, I agree. And my reaction was the same, except I dismissed the idea that Rove was incompetent, and went straight to “he knew the fix was in, just like 2004.” What else explains all the poll prep and expectations of Romney winning in a landslide? Could they really have believed their echo-chamber propaganda?

  10. One of the reasons that Repubs. win (when they do win), is that they NEVER GIVE UP. They push and push and push…. That is the main reason they “won” in 2000, Gore did not push nearly as hard. They push when it is reasonable, they push when it is unreasonable. So- it was unreasonable last week, but Rove was NOT going to give up. He thought he saw a microscopic chance that something “good” could still happen, so he refused to give up. That’s the way I saw it at the time (I was watching in real time), and that’s the way I see it now. BTW, I am a strong Obama supporter.
    Note, Rove IS a liar, so who knows what he really thought; the whole performance was for public consumption.

  11. Doggone it you guys, now we’re going to have to listen to Brett claim that RBC’ers are freaking conspiracy nuts just as much as Tea Partiers are and I might to have to agree he’s got a point. I hate that.

    I agree that our voting systems need verifiable paper trails. I fully accept that Karl Rove and his pals would do pretty much anything they thought they could get away with and they need to be scrutinized closely. The facts back that up. Once you’ve been complicit in outing a covert agent for the CIA for political gain there isn’t a lot of room to go any lower. Karl can add and subtract but his real strength is in his willingness to do anything to acheive his ends-not in his brilliant mind. After 9/11 a lot of people were opining that the 9/11 hijackers were very intelligent to come up with such a successful plan. IMO, if you are willing to do what just about everyone else thinks of as unthinkable, you have a pretty good chance of success even if you aren’t particularly bright.

    On the other hand, as I pointed out when a commenter here assured us that Obama could not possibly win Ohio in 2012 because the system has been rigged since 2004 (or some such number), Obama won in 2008-and now he’s won there again. I have colleagues who are birthers and a couple of you in this thread are sounding exactly like them in your attempts to explain those facts away.

    My only defense against Brett’s inevitable claims are that Robert Frank is a very infrequent poster here and the usual RBC commenters in this thread are not buying in.

  12. Why not just assume it really was a breakdown? He saw something he really, really wanted slipping away, and lost it?

    Look, you want to get into stolen election fantasies, Republicans have as much basis as you do. Numerous precincts where Obama got 100.0000% of the vote, nobody even made a mistake??? Legal poll watchers driven off at gun point? (Well, I guess that’s what happens when you spend weeks trying to convince people that poll watchers are the new KKK, instead of a normal part of our election system.) How many precincts can you point to where Romney got 100% of the vote, a 99% turnout, and Democratic poll watchers were forcibly ejected?

    But I don’t think that’s why Obama won.

    Either side would have been glad to have stolen the election, and there were doubtless local efforts to do so by both sides. Barring a serious audit of the election, (Which we really need, and never get.) there’s no way to say who did it more, or whether it was just a wash.

    I’ll tell you want we need:

    1. Reliable, traceable voting systems that can’t be rigged. I studied computer engineering in college, and I can’t imagine why anybody would be stupid enough to try to use a computer for voting; Even if you made it secure, most people would never be able to understand why it was secure, and thus trust it. What the heck is wrong with scantron ballots? Reliable, a paper trail the voter creates themselves, immediate counting with the ballot returned to you if you’ve made some mistake. What’s not to like? A few tweaks like making the paper ink proof outside the circles, and a standard format, and they’re great.

    2. Voter ID. Look, you think this is a problem for people without ID, get them ID!.

    3. Most of all, elections officials shouldn’t be partisans. I’d propose a national “Election Corps” young people could join, to administer elections. Administer them in randomly assigned precincts, far from home. To prevent collusion.

    I mean, let’s face it, nobody is better positioned to steal an election than the people running it, and it’s an unfortunate aspect of our election administration that the people running it are often all members of the same party, who’ve known each other for years.

    4. A lot less use of absentee ballots. They’re a major weak point in the system, everybody knows it. I’m not thrilled by early voting, but it’s a lot more secure than absentee ballots.

    5. And maybe some of the purple ink, too, just to be on the safe side.

    Our elections are a joke, it’s time we did something to fix them. But if that something makes just one side happy, it’s a complete non-starter. Real reform is going to leave both sides unhappy about something.

    Unfortunately, every elected official was elected under the current system. That kind of kills their enthusiasm for changing the system, doesn’t it?

    1. 2. Voter ID. Look, you think this is a problem for people without ID, get them ID!.

      So much for:

      Shall we enact a law to moderately inconvenience a comparatively small number of evildoers, at the cost of moderately inconveniencing a vastly larger number of innocents?

      . . . Whatever the object, I say, “No.” . . . You want to deprive the many of liberty to inconvenience the bad apples? Bugger off, I say, until you find measures which are more narrowly tailored.

      Golly gee, I wonder, I wah-wah-wah-wah wonder what it could be in the particular case of Voter ID laws that would cause you to so publicly and transparently sacrifice your oh-so-lofty principles. I truly, truly wonder . . .

      And make no mistake: We are not just talking about “a comparatively small number of evildoers” here, we are talking about a number that is statistically indistinguishable from zero. In point of fact, I will bet you $100 to charity that the in-person voter fraud rate is lower, by an order of magnitude, than the crime rate among CCW permit holders, and I’ll even limit “crime” to assault or worse, excluding “illegal discharge” and “improper handling” cases.

      Meanwhile, the number of people moderately, and in some cases TREMENDOUSLY inconvenienced, in some of the jurisdictions in which these laws were passed in the last two years, is estimated to be anywhere from 8%-15% or more of voters. Voters who have been voting for more than 50 years, then suddenly find they can’t anymore, because of some arbitrarily stupid law that prevents nothing.

      Oh, and not incidentally, how are you planning to pay for this?

      You’re such a pathetic buffoon that even your allegedly reasonably arguments are made in transparently bad faith.

    2. Re: Scantron ballots……very good idea. That’s what we have in my now regrettably red north carolina. When I voted and put my ballot into the machine I was told by the lady that I was the first in a while who got theirs right and didn’t get an error from the machine. The only thing I would like to see added to the scantron is a ticket verifying that it counted my vote the way it should have. How do I know that my scantron didn’t go in and get counted for the other side???

      1. An even better solution, in my opinion, is simply to use standard paper ballots and count them by hand. It is still the method with the highest degree of verifiability and the most obstacles to systematic fraud.

      2. Such a ticket or receipt would be meaningless (if the vote-tabulating machine is altering the count, it can certainly give you a receipt that displays your intent rather than the showing the vote it fraudulently recorded), and would be an invitation to at least allegations of corruption (because it could constitute proof you’d voted a certain way, proof you could pass on to someone who might reward you). This is why it’s important that:
        (1) The actual marked ballot must be voter-auditable, so that you can read it and know it’s correct before it’s submitted. Scantron is an excellent example of this. Machine-printed receipts that serve as the actual ballot could also serve.
        (2) The voter-auditable (i.e. paper) ballots must be preserved, so that anyone wishing to test the accuracy of the vote-tabulating machines can do so. Obviously for reasons of expense and hassle this shouldn’t be done at whim, but any recount and perhaps any election should include manual recounts of randomly selected precincts to test the veracity of the tabulating machines.

        1. Scuse me but the ticket would not be meaningless. What a silly thing to say. As to the scantrons being preserved for possible recount purposes, yes, what a wonderful idea. I assume that they are in my precinct but don’t know for sure. That’s one thing that I’ll be looking into.

    3. 1) Everyone who’s not a total hack seems to agree on this.
      2) I’ve got nothing against voter ID, if done in good faith - that is, the ID must be free, really free, and anyone lacking an ID must be seen as a problem to be solved. That means that assistance must be made available to people who need birth certificates or have other problems (and I note that the PA law specifically said Puerto Rico-born citizens over a certain age were ineligible to get IDs at all). These documents can be expensive. This may mean assistance with transportation, and with bureaucracy. It may even mean mobile ID vans. Basically, this means spending money to do it right. Note since this would be a federal requirement, there would be federal standards for the IDs, and a federal database. This means, Brett, that your friends on the Right and for that matter some of our friends on the Left would have kittens, as they did the last time a federal ID card was mooted. I could eagerly support national ID for reasons including immigration reform - but for just those reasons, I see it going noplace.
      Also, as has been noted innumerable times, voter ID requirements are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. In-person voter fraud is essentially nonexistent, the only cases in years having recently occurred as Right-wingers attempted it to prove a point, and got caught. In-person voter fraud would be an absurd method of moving elections, as it would require thousands of co-conspirators voting a dozen times to alter even a close election.
      3) A national elections oversight could be interesting. Canada’s seems to work moderately well. But it would be expensive, and would be fiercely fought by all manner of interested parties. Basically, I see this as something of a non-starter, and I suspect the specific problems such a board might address could more usefully be addressed by regulation without uselessly failing to create such a body.
      4) I have some concerns about absentee ballots, specifically allegations of ballot theft and (so far as I know unsubstantiated) allegations of “voting parties” in which people publicly mark their ballots supervised by their pastors and their fellow parishioners. But so far as I know the experience of Oregon and Washington (whose elections are all-absentee) has been positive, and these types of fraud and abuse have been uncommon to the point of essentially not happening. I agree with the theoretical problems, but I’m not sure they’ve materialized. And I can’t see at all why you would be opposed to early voting; the only conceivable problem raised by early voting that you raise is that the ink you propose in your (5) might wear off, and there’s no evidence that such ink might serve the slightest purpose.

      I would say that, in general, a lot of our problems is that we’re cheap. If we had longer hours at more polling stations with well-chosen technology at least half our problems would go away.

      1. Washington and Oregon don’t swing elections, hence no election fraud in national elections. And hey! How ’bout that Anonymous collective!!! Karl Rove’s meltdown on Fox EXPLAINED!

    4. Can we please also have enough machines, polling places, and poll workers that people don’t have to stand in line hours to vote? Bringing the waiting times down to some reasonable level, which is equalized across precincts, is not difficult.

  13. I think the problem with this analysis is the nature of Rove’s supposed competence. His “competence” is that he’s ruthless, takes no prisoners, and has a political kind of street smarts. But I haven’t ever see him display the analytical kind of intelligence that would allow for a critical self-review. Him being shocked at his methods for once not yielding the desired results is no more surprising to me than a professional hitman being shocked at being tracked down by the police for once despite years of experience in his field.

    So, yes, my best guess is simply that he was drinking his own kool-aid.

  14. I’m generally not a conspiracy theorist, but I can’t help wondering about that “uncertified software” that Husted tried to have loaded into some voting machines before he was shot down by the court. Even simple incompetence needs to have a reason. What was his reason for changing the software? Was there some actual (or perceived) problem that he honestly thought needed to be fixed? If so, I haven’t heard any mention of it. Answer me that, and I’ll gladly accept the “incompetence” explanation for the whole thing.

    As for the rest of it, I completely agree with the comments above about how to fix the system. Voter-verifiable paper ballots (with random spot-check audits to ensure the digital count matches the ballots); and ensuring that EVERY eligible voter has proper ID, so that issue can be put to rest once and for all. I also think that the Democratic Party should take this up as a priority. If instead of fighting Voter ID, they change it to “Voter ID for EVERYONE”, they can completely take the issue away from the Republicans, and maybe register a lot more Democratic voters at the same time.

  15. “If instead of fighting Voter ID, they change it to “Voter ID for EVERYONE”, they can completely take the issue away from the Republicans, and maybe register a lot more Democratic voters at the same time.”

    Yes, this is what is fueling a lot of the conspiratorial thinking on the Right, on the subject of ballot fraud: It is so obviously the case that the sensible response to Voter ID laws is getting everybody ID, that conservatives can’t figure out any reason for Democrats not taking that route except that they want to facilitate fraud. Thus, the harder Democrats push back on it, the more convinced Republicans become that there IS fraud going on.

    I think they’re fools for not considering that it might just be mindless partisan opposition, but that’s what’s going on in their heads.

    1. What about considering the possibility that they are just mistaken as a matter of sensible policy. Is it conceivable to you that the number of legitimate voters disenfranchised by these laws will exceed, by many orders of magnitude, the number of fraudulent votes prevented? That is the evidence, you know.

      And since the evidence further strongly suggests that those disenfranchised are predominately Democratic voters I’d say those on the right are pretty dumb if they can’t figure out what’s going on, and are lying if they claim that their primary concern is with the integrity of elections, rather than suppressing the Democratic vote.

      Look, yesterday you refused to say voter suppression is a bad thing. The Republicans have very dirty hands on that issue. (I note that, hilariously, Rick Scott is appointing a commission to find out why the lines were so long in South Florida. Talk about chutzpah.) Until they scrub those hands very clean I take every thing they say in the worst possible light.

      1. Citizens have to register in order to vote. Whatever hoops they have to jump through may inconvenience them, or make it hard for them to prove their eligibility, but for darn sure, non-registered persons don’t get a vote.

        So how hard can it be to issue an Official Voter ID, instead of one of those little paper “voter cards” that doesn’t mean a thing?

      2. Bernie, if you get a chuckle from Governor Scott’s puzzlement over seven hour waits in Dade County, while Sumter County (where I live, surrounded by mostly old white Republicans) had short lines, then this will crack you up. Further north in Florida, where Congressman West lost, it seems a large number of votes got “lost” on their way to the recount. They are now “investigating:”

    2. It is so obviously the case that the sensible response to Voter ID laws is getting everybody ID asking what problem they think they’re solving and how they intend to pay for it


    3. I think we need to differentiate between the Republican party elites on one hand, and the mass of low-information conservative voter at the other end of the scale. Of course the elites know that it’s all a bunch of BS — they’re the ones who are making it up in the first place. And of course they know exactly why the Democrats are pushing back. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that there is a significant portion of the electorate who truly BELIEVE that Democrats are stealing elections through voter fraud. And those voters therefore have no reason to accept the election results as legitimate. Which in turn makes them even more likely to believe whatever crap the elites shovel on them next. My point is that the Democrats need to stop being reactive, and instead get out in front of this. We have 4 years until the next presidential election, that should be time to at least lay some good groundwork to start convincing people that they are trying to resolve the issue. And I have to think that in the whole scope of things, the cost of this would be peanuts, while the benefits to the country as a whole would be enormous.

      1. Possible on about the same level as it’s ‘possible’ for all the air molecules in this room to decide to congregate over in that corner, leaving me in a vacuum. No, of course I don’t think the election was stolen.

        I think there were efforts to steal it, on both sides, but it fortunately was beyond “the margin of fraud”, as they say. I might have preferred it to be beyond that margin on the other side, but at least we won’t be treated to Florida in 2000 again.

        “And of course they know exactly why the Democrats are pushing back.”

        Yeah, because you’ve got a bunch of poorly motivated voters on your side, you have to make voting as frictionless as possible in order to keep them from staying home.

      2. Of course, no RATIONAL, halfway INTELLIGENT person thinks that’s plausible. What’s your point? The people I’m talking about are neither. And there are a lot of them. And they come out and vote for people like Romney and Ryan, McConnell and Boehner, King and Issa and West and Bachman and all the rest. And whenever they do lose, they blame the voting process for cheating them rather than accept that they really did lose the vote. So they just get a little crazier and the country gets a little more ungovernable. What I’m suggesting is for the Democrats to start thinking outside the box and start LEADING our political system back from the brink that it is rapidly approaching. The platform should be: 1) Every citizen has the right to vote. 2) Every citizen has the right to know that his vote is being properly counted. 3) Every citizen has the right to know that all other votes being counted were cast legitimately. Make that platform the mantra of the Democratic Party, and dare the Republicans to object.

        1. “3) Every citizen has the right to know that all other votes being counted were cast legitimately”

          Damn straight: Which is why you don’t whip up paranoia about poll watchers to the point where they get driven out of polling places at gun point. Maybe you guys could refrain from that next time around? From some of the stuff Democrats were saying before the election, you might have thought True the Vote was handing out white sheets for their poll watchers to wear while on duty.

          If you’re going to rack up precincts where you get 100 point zero repeating percent of the vote, maybe you want to let the other side watch it happen, so they’ve got some reason to actually believe it really happened?

          1. I’d be interested in clear evidence of Democratic cheating, like your evidence of 100 percent democratic precinct results. Where did that happen, and were there any that were 100% Republican? Did you or your sources check?

          2. Who said it was due to fraud? When you’ve got a group out there that tends to cluster, and is already giving 95% or more of it’s vote to a particular party, 100 percent districts aren’t impossible, you know. They just look darned suspicious, especially if they’ve kicked out poll watchers.

            Kind of like the bank branch where the tellers kicked out the auditors, and then they all won the lottery. Could happen, but you can’t blame people for wanting to see the tickets.

            Cuyahoga County precinct map shows areas where Obama beat Romney unanimously (database)

            In 59 Philadelphia voting divisions, Mitt Romney got zero votes

            What amazes me, of course, is that for this to happen, it has to be that nobody cast a vote for Romney even by accident. I guess those ballots aren’t as hard to fill out as we keep getting told.

          3. = = = Brett Bellmore at 8:34: “Damn straight: Which is why you don’t whip up paranoia about poll watchers to the point where they get driven out of polling places at gun point. ” = = =

            Presumably this is the new Rovian talking point? I was watching the news pretty carefully on Election Day and I saw exactly zero reports of such an event. It is possible that there was more than one such event in the entire nation, on about the same level as it’s ‘possible’ for all the air molecules in this room to decide to congregate over in that corner, leaving me in a vacuum, but I’m going to call baloney on this latest Bellmore claim.


          4. i’m with you on that brett. as a texan i became incredibly suspicious when our attorney general said any poll watchers from the united nations would be arrested. i wonder what they had to hide?

          5. But, hey, I’m sure you’ve got your horror stories of precincts where Obama suspiciously got not a single vote, and Democratic poll watchers being illegally ejected, or even chased off by gun wielding crazies. I’m just not hearing about it because it’s not a favorite topic of Rush’s.

          6. I think his point there, Nav, was simply that there was a legal process for becoming a poll watcher. You can’t just walk in on election day and declare yourself to be one. I’ve been a poll watcher in the past, you have to be legally appointed and credentialed. And the UN doesn’t have the authority to do that.

            I’m a citizen of this country, and if I just walked into a polling place, even in my home state, and up and declared myself an observer without jumping through the hoops, I’m pretty sure I’d shortly be getting a ride in a police car.

            It was a jurisdiction fight, IOW, the UN was presuming it had some kind of legal authority where it had none. Where, in fact, the President has none.

          7. By the way, after all the bluster back and forth between the Feds and states over the UN observer thing, did any observers actually get arrested? I can’t find any substantial news hits on this after the 5th, I’m curious how it ended up. Looks to me like the OSCE may have backed down, and stayed out of the states that objected.

            Or maybe the story just stopped being interesting to the media, when the election observers began reporting their shock over our lax voter ID requirements. That was an ironic touch to the story, I thought…

          8. In how many of those 100% precincts were poll watchers driven away? No WND cites, please.

            Also it is indeed plausible that Obama got 100% of the vote in some of those areas. In PA the black vote was 93% for Obama, in OH it was 96%. Not only that, but there was an income gradient in the overall vote. Romney did better with higher income individuals. What do you think a cross-tab of race and income would show us? My guess is that those 100% precincts tend to be poor or middle-class. That increases even more the probability that a random voter there will be an Obama supporter, so that a few 100% precincts are not surprising.

          9. Absolutely, I explicitly denied it was a result of fraud. (At least, I’m quite certain most of it wasn’t; Fraud MIGHT have gotten rid of that last Romney vote, who knows?) My point simply being that if you’re going to HAVE precincts like that, you better permit poll watching, so that the other side can see with their own eyes nothing crooked is going down. Because it sure as heck looks like ham-handed ballot fraud, if you don’t watch it happen.

            Conspicuously not WND

            I mean, come on, this stuff really DID happen last week: Legitimate poll watchers, legally entitled to be present, being kicked out of polling places, usually by people who had an obligation to know better. And, yeah, at least one at gun point. It was happening all over, Philly, Chicago, Gary, Detroit. All sorts of places where your party completely controls election administration.

            You spent weeks demonizing Republican poll watchers, and it worked. Now there are numerous precincts where Republicans are free to imagine the vote was stolen, because your side kicked out the people who were there to see it not happen.

            Now, YOU produce the 100% Republican precincts, and the Democratic poll watchers who got kicked out of them. Because I’ve proven my end of it.

            As I said, don’t freaking do this again, we don’t trust each other enough to run elections on the honor system.

          10. i’d find your sources much more convincing if they could find a registered voter in any of those 100% obama districts who claimed to have cast a ballot for romney in their districts. or even a registered voter who claims to be a republican. i’d think that with the resources rupert murdoch et al. they could find someone to say that.

          11. = = = Brett Bellmore @ 11:58: “I mean, come on, this stuff really DID happen last week: Legitimate poll watchers, legally entitled to be present, being kicked out of polling places, usually by people who had an obligation to know better. And, yeah, at least one at gun point. It was happening all over, Philly, Chicago, Gary, Detroit. All sorts of places where your party completely controls election administration.” = = =

            There are an estimated 186,000 polling places in the United States [1]. Mr. Bellmore has provided evidence of a fight escalating to the drawing of a firearm at exactly one [2], from which he concludes that such events happened “all over, Philly, Chicago, Gary, Detroit” [notice any pattern to those locations? I thought so]. 1/186000 = 0.0005% Sure Mr. Bellmore, sure.

            Hey, since you have so much time on your hands perhaps you could finally answer these questions? Thanks.


            [1] Closest estimate from the Census Bureau; no one knows the exact number. Although the total has gone down sharply in the last 30 years; cutting excess fat from the dead hand of gub’mint I’m sure.

            [2] In other contexts Mr. Bellmore is a firm believer in the right of Citizens to protect themselves with firearms. Funny that.

          12. “i’d find your sources much more convincing if they could find a registered voter in any of those 100% obama districts who claimed to have cast a ballot for romney in their districts. or even a registered voter who claims to be a republican. i’d think that with the resources rupert murdoch et al. they could find someone to say that.”

            Are you being deliberately obtuse? I’ve, now repeatedly, denied claiming that it was fraud. The point is that it’s easy to convince yourself it’s fraud, if it happens where poll watchers are ejected. And poll watchers DID get ejected, illegally, thanks to a campaign by Democrats to delegitimize the practice if the poll watchers are Republicans.

            As with my earlier analogy, kicking out the auditors doesn’t PROVE you’re embezzling. But you don’t kick the auditors out if you’re expecting a large sum of money to drop in your lap! We don’t do these things on the honor system, because we don’t trust each other. We need poll watchers to believe outrageous results like those 100% precincts.

            I’m saying, don’t keep up this crap of demonizing poll watchers, unless you WANT Republicans to be convinced you’re stealing elections. Unless you want the whole system to fall apart, BOTH sides have to have reason to trust it. Stop undermining that trust!

          13. i’m not being deliberately obtuse, i’m deliberately demonstrating the bad faith from which your arguments arise. by repeatedly stating that you, personally, don’t believe fraud happened but continuing to point to sources which either imply or out and out say that fraud occurred you create such a sharp mismatch between your words and your sources that all the goodwill in the world couldn’t bridge the gap.

            the two men i know who were active in the true the vote group are both people who see nothing wrong with using the “n” word if there are only white people in the room. i know that one shouldn’t extrapolate about the many from one or two examples but it didn’t give me much confidence in the organization.

            wouldn’t it make more sense to put the whole machinery and process of voting into the hands of a nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation that was responsible for nothing more or less than to run the most efficient and fair elections possible?

          14. I’ve already proposed an “election corps” modeled after the peace corps, where people would volunteer, and be randomly assigned to run elections in different precincts. (To prevent collusion.) I’d overhaul the system from top to bottom, if I had my way, and leave little of it standing.

            But under the current system, there’s no substitute for poll watchers.

  16. Guys

    From here in Australia US elections look like something from Zimbabwe. I mean, we have a non-partisn Electoral Commission that tries very hard to make sure that everyone eligible is on the single national electoral roll, runs voting at state, local and national level and - if asked - union or anything else, is not expensive at all (budget $120 million a year), and does it with paper ballots that are counted on the night by officials in front of party watchers, produces a result within hours and are auditable or available for recount without problems. And sets up polling places in just about every school, staffed so that there is very little waiting. I mean, this is not rocket science. If you need a hand, I am sure they would be glad to come over and help.

    1. Something similar in Canada if you don’t want to pay the airfare from Canberra. And the Supreme Court of Canada held a couple of weeks ago that elections should be run to maximize the chances that people can vote rather than putting technical barriers in their way. Both federal and at least some provincial election statutes let people without other credentials vote anyway on the strength of an affidavit sworn on the spot before the principal election official at any polling place. (We also have polling places in prisons so ‘felons’ - not a category known as such in Canadian law - can vote.)

    2. Oh I wish I could live there in Oz, where voting values reflect an America I remember and now mourn

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