Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Early Voting and Republican Decadence

Anyone who looks at the stats from the early voting in Georgia can doubt that Obama will likely carry the state. About half of those who’ll actually vote voted early. The turnout is disproportionally African American. Overall, black turnout will about double this year. The Obama people employed about 4800 captains statewide to get people to the polls. And it’s been touching to see people patiently waiting for hours to make sure their voice is heard. Part of this is the real pride and hope that come with finally having one of your own competing so well for the highest office. But admirable human emotion has to be mobilized with "community organization." Obama’s organization has got the job done. The best poll I’ve seen has Obama up 10 or more among early voters.

MEANWHILE, the Republicans haven’t taken early voting seriously and even SAVED a lot of their money for the last few days of the campaign. So NOW McCain is outspending OBAMA, but now is surely too late. It should be an elementary principle of political science to encourage early voting, because, by providing multiple days and opportunites for voting, it takes a lot of the CHANCE out of it. You’re bound to lose some voters for all sorts of reasons when you focus on a single twelve-hour period.

REPUBLICANS should not take any solace in what’s most obviously different about this election--the first African-American nominee of a major party. The habits developed this time will likely persist to some extent. And, as pete has told us time and again, the Republicans aren’t going to be able to win with no effective appeal to black and Hispanic voters at all.

Discussions - 4 Comments

You're right, of course, that it would be smarter to get more Republicans to vote earlier.

I looked for information about early voting in Georgia and found this WSJ article from yesterday, which contains facts to support your observations.

In the contrary direction: Obviously we can't blame voters for voting on election day (and you're not doing that). But in most people's minds, especially if they've voted before, it's still "normal" to vote on election day. A heck of a lot of people who normally vote are going to show up then, and a heck of a lot of them are going to be McCain supporters. Given the heavy Obama voting that has occurred before the "normal" day to vote, the Georgia Republicans probably have the right idea: "Indeed, Georgia Republicans, while recognizing the inroads made by Democrats in the state, say they are using that fact to encourage GOP voters to rally on Nov. 4. Ben Fry, executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, in an interview said, 'We're out there telling our voters that the Democrats are hungry and fired up. We're confident they're going to respond.'"

If we hear about record-breaking turnout on Tuesday, it will be possible to think both "they should have been encouraged to vote sooner" and "our side is rallying--we can win."

I do think that it is the case that a lot of people on our side are angry about the early voting and all the "iffy" things associated with it. It is quite possible that many did not early vote by way of making a statement about it and intend to show up with bells on this Tuesday.

I would also add that the weakness of the McCain campaign is also reflective of the weakness of organized political conservatism generally. In the 90s, organizations like the Christian Coalition and the NRA did much of the GOTV on the right. Alot of House of Reps and Senate members were thereby pulled across the finish line. In this decade, conservative Senate candidates were helped by the Bush/Rove organization. The Bush/Rove organization is gone and is not being replaced. Conservatives have moaned about Bush but we now see how dependent conservative (and not-so-conservative) statewide Republican candidates were on Bush and Rove. Rebuilding effective conservative grassroots political organizations will be one of the many challanges conservatism will face starting Wednesday.

Um, you don't live in a swing state, do you. The Republicans have been Pushing early voting huge in places like Nevada. I know, because I was part of that effort.

What they haven't been doing is wasting that effort in places like Georgia, where it doesn't matter.

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