Voters Eager to Have A Stake in Historical Election: Early Voting Predicts Strong Turnout Tuesday

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

In the last two weeks voter registration and early voting has shown that voters are geared up and ready to take part in what has been called a "historical event" on November 4.

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60,000 Votes That Changed the World

60,000 Votes That Changed the World

We Democrats are Good....but Lucky as well

As we prepare to vote in what many have called the most important election in a generation, it might be useful to consider the role that sheer luck and the law of unintended consequences will play in the outcome.

As this is written one week before Election Day, 2008, it appears that Barack Obama is headed for a 350 electoral vote victory; that Democrats will increase their majority in the Senate by at least 7 seats, and that they are poised to pick up between 15-22 seats in the House.  I'm not clairvoyant; I'm just reading the same polls and pundits as everyone else.
The election won't be close.  The reason it won't be close is the role that 60,000 swing votes played in 2004.

Everyone remembers that if 60,000 Ohioans had flipped from Bush to Kerry in 2004, Kerry would have been narrowly elected.  Remember how horrified we were that Bush won a second term.  We feared that he would continue the disastrous policies of his first term; he would finally get the chance to pack the Supreme Court with conservatives and enable the overturning of Roe v. Wade.  He would continue the failed war in Iraq. And he would pursue belligerence abroad, and a lasting political realignment at home.  We Democrats were in incredulous that after his poor performance in his first term, American voters had rewarded W with a second term! How could we Democrats be sent to the wilderness for another four years?  

But wait.  What we couldn't see at the time is that for the long-term health of the Democratic Party and its ideals, Kerry's defeat in Ohio was our salvation.  Bush didn't get to pack the Supreme Court.  He got to pick two Justices, and they are conservative.  But he missed the chance at a bigger realignment.  The liberals on the Court decided to outlast Bush.  And in Iraq, General Petreus' surge worked and we are in a far better position than we were in 2004 (that doesn't mean that the original invasion has been vindicated).  And on other domestic issues, Bush did nothing in his second term isn't easily reversible by Obama in his first week in office.   So, frankly, instead of being a disaster for Democrats, Bush's 2004 victory was the greatest long-term gift Democrats could ever have hoped for.  

Why?  Because the financial meltdown occurred on his watch and not the Democrats'.  Only the most foolish or partisan can possibly blame the financial meltdown on the Bush Administration. The problems with sub-prime mortgages, Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), overleveraged banks; Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, etc. were baked into our financial system long before Bush celebrated his narrow victory in November, 2004.  

And no fair-minded person can possibly argue that Kerry could have prevented what has happened in the past year.  Kerry's Treasury Department is unlikely to have been any more prescient than Bush's.  He was also unlikely to have had such an outstanding steward of the crisis once it unfolded as Bush's Hank Paulson.  Whatever you think of Bush, Hank Paulson is a hero for recognizing what needed to be done, once the crisis unfolded.  

So, consider the Democrats' luck.  Barack will win this transformational election not because he's waged a great campaign (which he did), and not because he's eloquent, brilliant and likeable (which he is).  The main reason he's going to win is because the Republicans presided over the financial meltdown that they had the bad luck to see unfold on their watch.  The financial meltdown plays into the public perception of the Republicans as the party of Wall Street, fat-cats, and privilege.  Never mind that Fannie and Freddy were "democratic" institutions, or that the "bad guys" on Wall Street were as likely to be Democrats as Republicans. Iraq was Bush's war (a fair criticism); the meltdown is Bush's as well (an unfair criticism).  

The World that Might Have Been.

If 60,000 Ohioans had flipped in 2004, it would be John McCain, or some other conservative Republican leader that would be coasting toward victory over the "inept" Hoover (Kerry) of the 21st century.  

If 60,000 Ohioans had flipped in 2004, today's Congressional Democrats would be running away from the Democratic administration to save their skin.  Now the fact that only 13 Senate Democrats are up in 2008 might have saved them from significant losses.  But Democrats would most certainly not be salivating at the prospect of a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate.  And the balance in the House would most certainly be closer to parity.  

If 60,000 Ohioans had flipped in 2004, the Democrats of 2008 would be facing a prospective Supreme Court alignment that most certainly would overturn Roe v Wade.  With the likely retirements of Souder, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Kennedy, the winner of the 2008 election is most certainly going to get a chance to remake the court for a generation. In 2004, those 60,000 Ohioans hoped Bush would get to make those selections.  Instead, it will be Obama.

If 60,000 Ohioans had flipped in 2004, it would be the Democrats that would be facing a nuclear winter; out of power, and out of ideas.  Instead, it's the Republicans that will meet in a phone booth following the election and try to remake their party and their brand. Hello, Bobby Jindal, are you there?

I want to find those 60,000 Ohioans from 2004 and send them a thank you note!  Thank you for voting for George W. Bush! At the time, we thought you made a monumental and unforgivable mistake.  Instead, you are our national heroes.  You have caused the greatest political realignment in a generation.  

It's the 60,000 Ohio swing voters of 2004 that we have to thank for the upcoming 8 transformational years of Barack Obama; a nearly filibuster-proof senate majority, a Supreme Court that most certainly will become more centrist, and a strong democratic majority in the House of Representatives.  

Who could have foreseen our good fortune?  So, to my Republican friends, this is a lesson in unintended consequences.  As those famous Swedish philosophers, Abba, said in their 1970s hit single, Waterloo, (sing it out loud!) "Sometimes YOU WIN WHEN YOU LOSE."

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OH-3 Declared "Potential Upset"

Maybe those folks at Fox News really are fair and balanced!  They've declared OH-3 a "potential for upset," citing the strong Dem performance in early turnout and the fact that OH-3 includes urban Dayton, Ohio.

Mitakides and Turner have squared off before, but the game has seriously changed.  The Obama ground game is the best anybody has ever seen, and Turner is now on CREW's list of "Most Corrupt Members of Congress." Strickland carried the district and so did Obama, so there's a real chance here.  Plus, she's got the name recognition now, especially after winning a three-way primary.  Who could have guessed Fox News would be the first to call it?

Turner has outraised Mitakides (you can contribute to jane at, but the combination of issues, Dem performance and her strong TV and field keep the race more than competitive.

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Progressive Democrat Newletter Issue 187

Obama's ahead, but this week I focus, more than anything, on what you can do from home to win for Obama and win Senate and House seats. I also have many candidates highlighted in some 20 states as well as groups and events worth you attention.

Readership is up, particularly in states like Georgia and Colorado.

Newsletter below. Hope it is helpful!

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New Voters Under Siege: Ohio Exemplifies National Voting Rights Issues

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

For those of us who believe that democracy works best when all eligible citizens participate, the influx of new voters makes for an exciting presidential election year. Of course, with the excitement and high expectations of turnout comes controversy and partisan resistance to the new crop of voters.

Battles over accommodating, verifying and counting these new voters are plaguing states across the country with everything from partisan initiated voter caging plans to statewide practices of voter purges, as outlined in Wired this week.

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