The question is whether Democrats are delusional or simply feigning belief in a re-run of 2008’s perfect storm (their side turning out in historic numbers and Republicans staying home) in order to lay groundwork for delegitimizing a Romney Presidency before it even begins. In other words, do they really believe Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight model is the Word of God, or is it simply a useful tool for setting unrealistic expectations–on the theory that the more surprised party faithful are on November 7th, the more a voter suppression conspiracy theory focused on ‘true the vote’ legislation will carry intuitive appeal?
No one can deny that claims of voter suppression have been a major part of Obama’s reelection campaign. It’s the most scurrilous version of an evolving messaging effort that began in Obama’s first State of the Union address, when Obama made the (highly dubious) claim that because of Citizens United corporate interests would suddenly be able to ‘buy elections’. Democrats have spent much of the past 12 months radicalizing this theme to a full-blown voter suppression narrative, with Obama for America going so far as to challenge Ohio’s (bi-partisan) early voting legislation. With Obama losing the middle of the electorate decisively and Republicans having closed the intensity gap from 2008, the question now is whether the narrative has become a broader, shared effort between the political left and the liberal media—not to influence events to produce an Obama victory, but rather to prepare the spin on Obama’s impending defeat.
Confidence in a narrow victory would certainly seem incompatible with sincere concerns about disenfranchisement. These positions are mutually exclusive, as a matter of logic. The Rasmussen and Gallup polls make clear that a marginally more Republican electorate will deliver the White House to Romney.
The Democrats’ new refrain—‘don’t let voter suppression keep you from voting early’—makes even less sense, though it clarifies that the narrative is a talking point, and nothing more. Obviously, if voter ID laws can’t keep Democrats from voting early it won’t keep them from voting on Election Day. After all, ID requirements are constant throughout voting season in any given state. But short of the media seizing on this tacit admission, Democrats will continue using the talking point to seek political advantage; first to win over voters, then, if necessary, to impose a reinterpretation of the election results.
Delgitmizing Romney’s victory is critically important to framing the trajectory of American politics in the early 21st century. Just as Democrats, at the outset of the Obama era, wanted to point to 2006 and 2008 as the beginning of the rise of a new progressive America animated by increased political participation by impressionable young adults and black and Latino minorities, Republicans would now like to seize on 2004 and 2010 as signs of a conservative movement that is equal parts durable and passionate. In essence, Republicans want the 2012 election to act as a rubber match–a kind of ratification of the Tea Party midterm. For Democrats, the bar has been quickly been lowered to obstructing any clear outcome. At best, Obama is guaranteed to become the first President in the modern era to earn reelection while his coalition is shrinking, and the national vote outcome may very well be razor thin. At worst, an Obama victory could be confined to the electoral college, in which case he would become the first President to ever be reelected while losing the popular vote.
If Obama loses, obstructing a new conservative era means delegitimizing Romney’s victory and the newly resurgent conservative movement that helped deliver it, while covering for the collapse of the minority/young voter strategy. The voter suppression myth achieves all of these objectives. It provides an excuse for lower than expected black and Latino turnout, in addition to explaining away the relevant strong turnout among a newly activist Republican base. Moreover, it allows Democrats to smear the Republican governors and state legislators elected during 2010’s Tea Party wave as the 21st century equivalent of Bull Connor, denying access to the ballot box based on voters’ race. This, in turn, would help justify obstruction of the governing process until 2014 and cast the imperative of winning the midterm elections in the starkest possible terms.
For a Democrat party that has defined itself by the personality behind a flailing presidency, the voter suppression meme is the best way to prepare for defeat and buy time until the 2014 midterm, long enough (the party hopes) to formulate some semblance of a positive vision to sell the country in the post-Obama era. Until then, bogus narratives which reinforce their sense of victimhood and the other side’s racism will have to do.
Update: Once again, HotAir is on top of the latest wildly outlandish turnout assumptions from a Democrat friendly pollster. Even by PPP’s standards, predicting a 45 percent Dem electorate in the Buckeye State is pushing it. Someone needs to tell them that the suppression narrative only works if the turnout assumptions are viewed as merely optimistic, as opposed to blatantly dishonest.
Battleground Watch has a good write-up as well.