I’ve been wondering whether stuff like this would happen.
POLICE PREPARE FOR UNRESTBolton is confecting one of those disingenuous “balanced presentations” that falsify the real story. No one would riot over the election of a female Vice President, if that was all there was to it.
by Alexander Bolton
Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.
Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.
Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, —There’ll be more than “suspicion of foul play” going on if McCain’s declared the winner.
Semi-digression: Have you been following FiveThirtyEight: Electoral Projections Done Right? You should. Honest. It’s a blog about election polling statistics, and far more interesting than that description makes it sound.
It’s written by Nate Silver, who started out as a Sabermetrician (as in the Bill James Baseball Abstracts) and Managing Partner of Baseball Prospectus. If you aren’t familiar with the sub-universe of baseball statistics, the takeaway is that Nate Silver has wizard-level statistical chops. For instance, FiveThirtyEight.com runs 10,000 election-simulation computer models every day, “in order to provide a continually up-to-date assessment of probability for electoral outcomes.”
For some time now, the analyses at FiveThirtyEight.com have been showing Obama with a double-digit lead on McCain. Of the 10,000 election-simulation models FiveThirtyEight.com ran today, 93.4% showed Obama winning, as opposed to 6.6% for McCain.
Furthermore, indications are that the tide of support for Obama is still coming in, and that McCain’s tide, low though it is, is still going out. A couple of pertinent news stories today: (1.) The very respectable Pew Research Poll has reported Growing Doubts About McCain’s Judgment, Age and Campaign Conduct; Obama’s Lead Widens: 52%-38%. From Taegan Goddard’s concise version:
Pew Research: McCain Collapses in Latest National Poll(2.) The New York Times reports that the McCain campaign appears to be giving up on Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Colorado. In all five states, McCain’s people are stretching out the ad buys they’ve already made. Basically, the advertising time in those states that they’d originally bought for use during the upcoming week is being spread out over the next two weeks, which are the final weeks of the campaign.
A new Pew Research poll shows Sen. Barack Obama holds his widest national margin yet over Sen. John McCain, 53% to 39%, among likely voters.
Key findings: “Obama’s gains notwithstanding, a widespread loss of confidence in McCain appears to be the most significant factor in the race at this point. Many more voters express doubts about McCain’s judgment than about Obama’s: 41% see McCain as ‘having poor judgment,’ while just 29% say that this trait describes Obama. Fewer voters also view McCain as inspiring than did so in mid-September (37% now, 43% then). By contrast, 71% of voters continue to think of Obama as inspiring.”
“In addition, Sarah Palin appears to be a continuing—if not an increasing—drag on the GOP ticket. Currently, 49% of voters express an unfavorable opinion of Palin, while 44% have a favorable view.”
(Aside: Does this mean we get to relax? IT DOES NOT. We still have to turn out every last legitimate vote we can. The larger the margin, the harder it will be for malfeasants to magically transform everything we know about voter intentions in this race into an inexplicable victory for McCain.)
Going back now to that story in The Hill:
Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.This is setting up a fraudulent racist narrative: that any unrest on Election Day will consist of inner-city blacks rioting because the black candidate didn’t win. Some of the things that narrative fails to take into account:
—The most notable recent instance of rioting while an election was in progress did not involve a local urban black population. It was in Florida in 2000, and the rioters were known Republican campaign operatives brought into the state on the national Republican Party’s nickel.
—The most recent instances of campaign-related violence or threats of violence were last week’s break-in and trashing of the Boston and Seattle offices of ACORN, and phoned-in death threats made to ACORN volunteers elsewhere. These happened in the wake of McCain, Palin, and the McCain organization making false and inflammatory statements about ACORN voter registration drives. The actual perpetrators of the break-ins and death threats are not yet know, but you’d have to be a drooling idiot to think they were Democrats.
—If Obama supporters take to the streets following declaration of a McCain victory, they’re not all going to be urban blacks, and they won’t just be protesting that the black candidate lost. What they’re going to be protesting is blatant election fraud.
—You cannot assume that all instances of protest are going to be illegal.
—You cannot assume that everyone who appears to be upset is a rioter or protester. They might well be campaign workers who are pursuing legitimate tasks and acting within their rights.
—If you assume that blacks who are out on the street during a time of unrest should not be allowed to continue going about their business, you’re going to keep a lot of citizens from voting for Obama.
—Trying to start Election Day riots, in the hope that riot suppression measures will disproportionately affect potential Obama voters, is probably one of the more effective tactics available to McCain’s campaign operatives. It’s clear at this point that normal methods of persuasion don’t work, if what you’re trying to do is persuade people that voting for McCain is a good idea.
Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand officers wanting to keep the peace, but caution that excessive police presence could intimidate voters.“Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters” is a mealymouthed way to suggest that this is only an issue for Democratic ward heelers and black community leaders; i.e., it’s just a partisan brangle. It’s not. It’s an issue for all the citizens of the republic.
Sen. Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has seen his lead over rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grow in recent weeks, prompting speculation that there could be a violent backlash if he loses unexpectedly.“Loses unexpectedly” is a euphemism for “loses under circumstances that make it impossible to believe the election was honest.”
Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed.Is that code for “cities with large black populations”?
In Oakland, the police will deploy extra units trained in riot control, as well as extra traffic police, and even put SWAT teams on standby.As I said at the start, no one would riot just because a female Vice President got elected. If the ticket that has a female candidate for Vice President is declared to have won, and there are riots, it will be because the rioters believe the election was stolen. Again.
“Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland Police Department.
“I think it is a big deal — you got an African-American running and [a] woman running,” he added, in reference to Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. “Whoever wins it, it will be a national event. We will have more officers on the street in anticipation that things may go south.”
The Oakland police last faced big riots in 2003 when the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Officials are bracing themselves in case residents of Oakland take Obama’s loss badly.I find it offensive that Alexander Bolton is equating potential voter protests with fans being upset over a lost football game. I likewise find it offensive that he dismisses that potential reaction “taking the loss badly.” We’re talking about people protesting the abrogation of their most basic political rights.
Political observers such as Hilary Shelton and James Carville fear that record voter turnout could overload polling places on Election Day and could raise tension levels.Shelton’s right. The important point is that police need to be prepared to suppress disorder without suppressing voters. If they haven’t made plans already, they need to start figuring out now how they’re going to tell the difference.
Shelton, the director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, said inadequate voting facilities is a bigger problem in poor communities with large numbers of minorities.
“What are local election officials doing to prepare for what people think will be record turnout at the polls?” said Shelton, who added that during the 2004 election in Ohio voters in predominantly black communities had to wait in line six to eight hours to vote.
“On Election Day, if this continues, you may have some tempers flare; we should be prepared to deal with that but do it without intimidation,” said Shelton, who added that police have to be able to maintain order at polling stations without scaring voters, especially immigrants from “police states.”
Here’s what I think is the ultimate potential ratfuck if the GOP thinks they need it: The weekend before the election, Homeland Security or some pliable Republican governor in a swing state, someone official or semi-official, announces that, with the polls indicating a possible Obama defeat, law enforcement has been directed to prepare for possible riots in major cities on election night. The slightly subtler version of the same maneuver is to leak word that such an alert is under consideration - possibly even that authority was denied because of “political correctness.” Such a maneuver could help swing anxious white voters against Obama at the last minute.Suddenly, I see why the Obama campaign is exhorting every voter in states that allow early voting to get out there and do it now. When Obama says “things could happen on that day,” his examples are things like your car breaking down. Which is a good argument for voting early. But you know, things really could happen on that day.
Larry Brennan points out an article from the Wall Street Journal opinion section which downplays the accuracy of polling. I can’t believe it’s in good faith. All polls are inaccurate. The trick is to know how inaccurate they are, and in what ways.
The last time I saw something like this was during the run-up to the 2000 election, when the accuracy of exit polls was suddenly being dismissed in exactly the same way that the accuracy of polling is now being dismissed by the WSJ.
Journalists covering a McCain rally in Virginia get harassed by whipped-up McCain supporters.
A new campaign pamphlet sent out to voters in Pennsylvania presents Palin as a centrist, and the figurehead of the ticket.
RFK Jr. and Greg Palast have a major new article in Rolling Stone: Block the Vote: Will the GOP’s campaign to deter new voters and discard Democratic ballots determine the next president? To accompany it, they’ve also put out a comic book: Steal Back Your Vote.
McCain’s smear robocalls, which he’s deployed in multiple states, are so disreputable and inflammatory that Republican candidates and officials, including senators and other notable lifelong Republicans, are calling for a stop to them. McCain blew them off.