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Reply #37: You are looking at more than a simple "scenario"... [View All]

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anaxarchos Donating Member (963 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-06-05 03:12 PM
Response to Reply #33
37. You are looking at more than a simple "scenario"...
You are recreating nothing less than the Republican 2004 Presidential Strategy. The problem the Republicans were addressing was the 2000 near dead-heat and the likelihood of recreating it in 2004. Given the Gore plurality in 2000, the likelihood of the Nader vote going to the Democratic nominee and the geography, originally they posed an ambitious plan for building a "New Republican Majority". The theory was that by using the patriotic wind of 9/11 at their backs and by focusing the "Power of The Presidency", Republicans could chip away at the conservative edges of traditionally Democratic constituencies. Thus the concentration on Hispanics, the invitation of conservative Black ministers to the White House (even as Bush refused to speak before the NAACP), etc.

As the election approached, it became clear that the impact of Iraq and the faltering economy (particularly in potential battlegrounds like Ohio and Pennsylvania) had undone that "strategy". The situation left few good GOP alternatives.

A battle of attrition for electoral turnout is mostly counterintuitive. It appears to be largely subjective but, in truth, it is typically fought "by the numbers" (i.e. money, phone calls, response rates, etc.). In 2004, the Democrats had nearly as much money to spend and were highly motivated. They had already won the battle for registration and historically the Republicans have only been able to better mobilize a smaller constituency (i.e. extract a higher percentage turnout from a smaller number of total partisans that could theoretically be mobilized). There are a number of genuinely knowledgeable veterans of these types of fights on this board if you need expert opinion.

In the 2004 elections, there is no reason to believe that the Republicans won the trench battle (and many reasons to believe that at best they got a draw). There is also no reason to believe that Rove put his faith in it. It happened but it was largely background noise to the Republican "strategy".

The other possible alternative was the tried and true one of winning the "undecideds", independents, and new voters. This was openly advocated by several Republican "strategists" and was proposed through the mechanism of swinging Bush's position "to the center". The interesting thing was that this was openly opposed by Rove. The basis of his opposition was that the electorate was already very polarized and that the hit rate among the "undecideds" would be too low.

Instead, Rove proposed a gamble which has since been widely regarded as a work of "genius" but which, at the time, was seen by many Republican veterans as all but conceding the election. Rove proposed a "turn to the right" instead, and, more specifically, a turn to the evangelical right. Bush undertook a series of initiatives toward fundamentalists (whom he had largely ignored for three years) which was crowned by support for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage (which, tellingly, hasn't been heard from since). The gamble was that this would mobilize the fundamentals to such a degree that it would overcome any erosion that it might cause in the tiny "middle".

The object of this strategy was 3 to 4 million conservative fundamentalists who were thought to have sat out the 2000 election. This constituency was the ONLY rapidly mobilizable and sizable group within the Republican constituencies which COULD be brought to the 2004 elections, thus justifying the "gamble" according to Rove. By this mechanism (perhaps as many as 3 million votes), the Republicans could just offset the Democratic plurality of 2000, the Nader vote, and a modest Democratic swing of the tiny "middle". Because this strategy was thought to be disproportionately effective in certain battleground states (Florida, Missouri, and a few others), it was thought that it could gain near parity or even a tiny plurality in the popular vote and that it could be focused geographically to win a narrow victory in the electoral vote.

All of the above probably happened... But where the rub comes in is with two factors. First, instead of 110 to 112 million votes as was expected in a "rerun of 2000", the turnout produced nearly 123 million votes, effectively swamping the Rovian strategy with a much bigger "middle". Second, Bush achieved, not narrow parity, but a 3 million vote majority in the popular vote. Some Republicans were "stunned" and this accounts for the claims of a "landslide", etcetera, immediately following the elections. Of course the election did not break any ground historically in presidential races (it was in fact a very close race), but what was really being referred to was a 3 million vote majority where no such vote could exist...

This "what if" is probably the closest to reality that could be proposed and the irony is that it is supported by the 12:22 AM exit polls. In fact, it is not so much that the exit polls suggest "fraud" so much as they support a logical understanding of an election which can not achieve that outcome WITHOUT fraud. The unadjusted exit polls suggest a 39/41 split which neatly follows the expected results and, if you followed the Prisuta reference in the "Game" thread, it also accounts for this kind of response error as it is generally described in the literature (i.e. a 39/39 actual split with nearly 3 million fundies reporting themselves as Bush voters in 2000 despite the fact that they didn't vote PLUS a proportionately greater swing in nonvoters for Kerry). Of course, Kerry wins handily in the 12:22 exit polls...

Please report the conclusions of your exercise....

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