The prior chair of the Florida Republican Party (2006–2010) and former governor Charlie Crist (2007–2011) have both told the Palm Beach Post that they didn’t push voter ID laws and the like in order to reduce fraud (there is none)—they did it to suppress turnout. The more people voting, the better Democrats do. They invented the fraud concern as a “marketing ploy.” Both men are on the outs with Florida Republicans, and this probably isn’t helping them make up. →
The only press coverage that Goode is getting for his wacky fourth-party presidential bid is for the possibility that he may be a spoiler for Romney in Virginia. This is another story in that vein. If Romney does lose Virginia by Goode’s Tuesday tally, a lot of people will be upset, but I’m pretty confident that Goode will not be among them. This is his fourth political party in the past decade—if need be, he’ll just join a new one. →
Jason Flanary, failed 2011 candidate for the Virginia Senate, had Twitter all a-flutter over the past few days after sending bajillions of really nasty anti-Obama SMS messages to mobile phones in total violation of federal election law. “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better” and “Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut” were two of the messages. Flanary, a Republican, is on the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and ran against Dave Marsden for Senate, garnering 46% of the vote. The Romney campaign says that they didn’t know the first thing about what Flanary was up to. Apparently Flanary’s company, ccAdvertising, is in the habit of sending out millions of illegal SMSes in the days before elections, in an effort to influence election outcomes. I’m pretty sure this story will have an unhappy ending for Flanary. →
Basically it’s a net gain for Fluvanna Republicans. The good news is that Morton finally found that election fraud she was so concerned about. →
Approximately 437,237 Philadelphia residents will not be able to vote under Pennsylvania’s controversial new voter ID law. Statewide, it’s 1.6M people, or one in five voters. This law was pushed strongly by Republicans and—damnest thing—it’s mostly Democrats who are disenfranchised by this law. It’s no wonder that the U.S. Attorney General is investigating whether the law violates the Voting Rights Act. →
Pennsylvania is defending their voter ID law in court, and they’ve just dealt themselves a serious blow. In a filing, they’ve admitted that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states,” as well as that “in person voter fraud is [not] likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.” They’re preparing to disenfranchise 750,000 voters for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Well, not NO reason—those 750,000 folks are liable to vote for Obama. →
Let’s put on our best surprised faces. There is one interesting bit. Republicans support voter ID laws no matter how much they dislike non-whites. The biggest variable comes among Democrats, among whom it’s the racists who support voter IDs. →
- CJR: The Shorter-Form Journal
This clever analysis of Wall Street Journal article lengths over the years shows that, under Rupert Murdoch, articles have gotten quite a bit shorter.
- The Washington Post: Five myths about voter fraud
There are some important and interesting facts about voter fraud here. A member of the Commission on Federal Election Reform figures that requiring that voters show ID will prevent between 1,000–10,000 legitimate votes from being cast for every 1 illegitimate vote that is stopped. 25% of African Americans do not have valid photo IDs. In Wisconsin, 55% of black men do not have valid photo ID. Fraudulent voting is stunningly, stunningly rare.
- mental_floss: 14 More Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent
In Tagalog, "layogenic" describes somebody who is beautiful from a distance, but unattractive up close. In Thai, "greng-jai" is the feeling of not wanting to put somebody out by taking them up on an offer to do something for you. I love these.
- Sunlight Foundation: Use the Net!
Both Sen. Jim Webb and Mark Warner are still filing campaign finance reports with the FEC on paper. They've presumably each got small staffs who do all of their data collection and number crunching on computers, only to them print out their campaign finance reporters, snail-mail them to the FEC, who have to scan them in and key them in again. The result is a huge waste of federal dollars and a significant delay in making those reports public. The rest of the world—including every last member of the House of Representatives—long ago moved to electronic filing. What's the deal with Webb and Warner?
- PhysOrg: Study shows voter turnout can be increased with simple word change
This small-scale study found a substantial increase in voter turnout by asking people to be a "voter," rather than to "vote." No doubt this logic will be put to work on a larger scale within the next couple of election cycles, and that demonstrate whether this theory stands up or not.
- BusinessJournalism.org: When visualizing numbers gets ridiculous
A journalism pet peeve of mine is when reporters provide numbers without context. "The state spent $34.4B last year." Is that a lot? How did that compare to the prior year, or ten years prior? Or they'll put "$1M" next to "$1B." That's not helpful—use the same unit for comparison, listing "$1M" and "$1,000M." But some have gone too far the other way, providing meaningless visualizations. "That's enough dollar bills to stretch to the moon and back." What is the reader to do with this knowledge? Better to just use numbers to express numbers, and let their context provide context.
There are three constitutional amendments on the ballot on Tuesday that are worth bringing up here, if only as a form of education (for all of us). Here are some quick notes on each of them.
The first is a bit of Dillon Rule busywork:
Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled?
Give permission to localities to provide exemptions to their own taxation structure? Duh. Yes.
The second is a widows-and-orphans unfunded mandate:
Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability?
I don’t think that the state has any business ordering localities to stop taxing some people. Should localities offer such a tax break to veterans? Sure, it strikes me as a good idea. But if the state wants to reduce taxes for veterans, they should reduce their own revenue, not localities’.
The third could increase the state’s rainy day fund:
Shall Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to increase the permissible size of the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the “rainy day fund”) from 10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years?
Note that this doesn’t actually increase the rainy day fund—it just allows more money to be socked away there if the state deems it necessary. I find it much harder to know how to vote on this one. On the one hand, sure, why not increase that cap so that, if it does look like it’ll be a good idea to save up more quickly, it’ll be possible to do that. On the other hand, why 15%? Why not 10%? Or 20%? Or 50%? Was there something wrong with 10%? I’d like to assume that there’s some logic behind these particular numbers, but much like “three-strikes” laws, I fear that there’s not.
Rick Sincere points out that I had no write-in votes in Charlottesville this year. There were very few on the whole, with most of them going to Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton.
Time Magazine’s Karen Tumulty was dispatched to cover John McCain’s ground game in Virginia, and she ended up visiting the campaign’s Gainsville office with Del. Jeff Frederick. Tumulty describes in Time magazine the scene that she witnessed:
With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.” It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. “And he won’t salute the flag,” one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, “We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born.” Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.
Tumulty tried to head out with those canvassers, presumably to see how this line of thinking did with winning over voters, but she was barred from doing so.
John McCain was interviewed by Jay Warren at WSLS yesterday, and Warren asked him about the widely-covered Time article:
David Kurtz at TPM writes that “McCain can’t quite bring himself to condemn” Frederick’s statement, and that seems like an apt description. But I think that there are really a couple of other aspects of this that are more interesting.
The first is that this is a reminder that Jeff Frederick is the greatest thing to happen to Virginia Democrats since Harry Flood Byrd, Sr., just as expected. Given an opportunity to correct the record by Tim Craig, Frederick stuck to his guns. God bless him, Frederick is piloting the Titanic all the way to the bottom of the Atlantic.
The second is that this reveals McCain campaign’s ground game for what it is. The recently-reactivated conservative base is peopled substantially by the conspiracy theorists of the angry right—Obama is a secret agent for al-Qaeda, he’s the anti-Christ, he’s hiding his past with a forged birth certificate—and these are the very people fired up enough to show up and volunteer. These people can show up and parrot these looney urban legends (“he won’t salute the flag”) and are welcomed with open arms by Jeff Frederick. Welcome to the McCain campaign!
It appears that both Jeff Frederick and John McCain are headed for Mistaken Point.
The Boston Globe is pitching Gov. Kaine as a veep contender. I’ll need to write about Virginia’s VP candidates in greater detail, but I just want to call up that I think Kaine would be a terrible political choice for Barack Obama’s running mate. Obviously, I have nothing against Kaine–I think he’s doing a fine job as governor, and I think he’d make a fine vice president (for what that’s worth). But his lack of military service and foreign policy experience add nothing to the ticket that needs adding, while his opposition to abortion would surely be problematic for the base. Kaine is from the south, but he’s not of the south, or at least he’s not perceived as such. Obama simply has better choices than Kaine, Jim Webb chief among them.
Jim Gilmore was nominated (by a 66-vote margin) by Republicans for U.S. Senate just an hour ago, and already Mark Warner’s campaign has a TV ad that excoriates Gilmore, while managing to stay upbeat and positive:
That’ll be the theme of the race between now and November. Warner is going to club Gilmore over the head with his record and there won’t be a thing that Gilmore can do about it.
The Republican Party of Virginia is having their state convention this weekend. I’m excited about it. The theme of this blog for the past few years has been that, given a choice, Virginia Republicans will always choose wrongly. Not wrong in hindsight, but wrong like should I pick up some dinner on the way home, or drive off a bridge? They’re presented with two choices this time around: who to make RPV chair and who to nominate as their candidate for U.S. Senate.
John Hager, the incumbent and former lieutenant governor, is a nice guy. He’s got the gravitas and the experience to try to hold together his party, and he’s clearly slowed its collapse, as I expected. He’s only had the job for a year. His challenger is the far-right Del. Jeff Frederick. He’s polarizing, inexperienced, and kind of a tool. Though Hager’s reelection seemed a cinch a few months ago, Frederick seems to have a real chance of winning. That would surely seal Republicans’ fate as a minority party in Virginia come next year’s elections.
The other decision that Republicans are presented with is considerably less consequential. They’ll be selecting between Gov. Jim Gilmore and far-far-far-right Del. Bob Marshall for the nomination to run against Gov. Mark Warner for Sen. John Warner’s seat. Short of a dead-hooker-or-live-boy scenario, Republicans may as well be nominating Mickey Mouse. Gilmore is way to the right fiscally, having left the state in a financial shambles at the end of his term as governor (apparently convinced that was a good thing), while Marshall is way to the right socially, being fundamentally opposed to sex for any purpose other than baby-makin’. The nomination of either would be terrible for the party. The citizens of Virginia well remember how badly Gilmore screwed up localities’ coffers, and will rightly interpret Gilmore’s nomination as an endorsement of Gilmorenomics on the part of Virginia Republicans. And giving Bob Marshall a platform is always a mistake, because nobody knows what’s going to come out of that man’s mouth (including, I suspect, Bob Marshall), and nobody but the dwindling base is going to like what he’s got to say. At best, these guys will go unnoticed by the public. At worst, they’ll be noticed.
This convention will certainly be a net loss for the RPV, but it may prove to be a staggering loss if Frederick defeats Hager. I know who I’m rooting for.