All of the polls seem to be trending in favor of the Democratic Party in general and Obama/Biden in particular. So why do I remain deathly afraid that we’ll still awaken on November 5th to a McCain/Palin administration?
I have made political predictions before. I have been wrong every time. If I were a pundit by profession, I’d have the worst track record in the business. Therefore, I hope that I’m wrong this time, as well. Because this is what I am afraid we will be hearing on November 5:
- The Bradley Effect. All of Obama’s poll numbers, we’ll be told, overstated his support by roughly seven percent. I know, you’ll say that the Bradley Effect didn’t seem to be a factor in the primaries. But that was an intramural struggle between Democratic voters, and the sexism factor might have canceled out the racism factor. And as I watch McCain/Palin stoke the fires of racist hatred throughout the swing states, I fear that the Bradley Effect might be the cornerstone of their electoral-college strategy.
- The youth vote was a no-show. In the past several elections, pundits have crowed about how the Democratic candidate was hoping that his strong support in the 18-29 demographic would turn the tide. But then, on Election Day, only a minuscule percentage of those young voters actually showed up. They’re under-represented, we’re told, because they don’t have landline phones and can’t be polled effectively. Same story every two to four years. I suspect that on November 5, all those teens and twenty-somethings who crowd Obama’s rallies will be nowhere to be found.
- The Diebold Effect. There are still too many states and districts where electronic voting machines — built and programmed by companies that are all major Republican Party donors — have no voter-verifiable paper trails. Some that do have paper trails are in states that forbid the use of the paper records for recounts. And in every election since 2000, when these machines have malfunctioned, they have misfired in favor of the Republican candidate every single time. No electronic voting machine has ever been reported to have caused an error that benefitted a Democratic candidate. Not once. Ever. Anywhere. You do the math.
- Good old-fashioned Right-wing electoral fraud. Look for replays of the “Brooks Brothers Riot” that we saw halt the Florida recount in 2000. Look for poor and minority districts to suddenly be plagued by a shortage of voting machines, malfunctioning voting machines, shortages of paper ballots, and partisan challenges by Republican operatives looking to block Democratic voters. Be on the lookout for such classic dirty tricks as robocalls that spread disinformation to Democratic and minority voters about where they should vote, or threats of arrest for minor infractions like parking violations or speeding tickets, or outright lies like telling students that they could be arrested for voting where they attend school instead of where they are originally from.
- A Lazy, Corporatist Media. Our television networks and newspapers will be so focused on the horse race and the poll numbers, and so intimidated by the Right wing to present a fake appearance of “balance” in their reporting, that even when they stare into the face of all of these criminal abrogations of our rights as voters, all they will talk about is how “John McCain rallied his base” and “made a surprising comeback” that speaks to the power of “family values” and “his long record of patriotic service.” It will all be bullshit, but it’s all they’ll give us. Obama/Biden will protest the results, and the Right wing echo chamber will call them whiners, sore losers, etc., and shout them off the national stage.
I’ve been wrong every time before. Let me be wrong this time, too.