ONTD Political

Voting is the Best Form of Revenge

9:26 pm - 11/09/2012
Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold.

How the GOP’s War on Voting Backfired

Since the 2010 election, Republicans passed new voting restrictions in more than a dozen states aimed at reducing the turnout of Barack Obama’s “coalition of the ascendant”—young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.

“This is not rocket science,” Bill Clinton said last year. “They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.” By pushing voter suppression laws, Republicans wanted the 2012 electorate to be older, whiter and more conservative than the young and diverse 2008 electorate.

But the GOP’s suppression strategy failed. Ten major restrictive voting laws were blocked in court and turnout among young, black and Hispanic voters increased as a share of the electorate relative to 2008.

Take a look at Ohio, where Ohio Republicans limited early voting hours as a way to decrease the African-American vote, which made up a majority of early voters in cities like Cleveland and Dayton. Early voting did fall relative to 2008 as a result of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s cutbacks in early voting days and hours, but the overall share of the black electorate increased from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012. More than anything else, that explains why Barack Obama once again carried the state.

I spent the weekend before the election in black churches in Cleveland, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the GOP’s push to curtail the rights of black voters made them even more motivated to cast a ballot. “When they went after big mama’s voting rights, they made all of us mad,” said Reverend Tony Minor, Ohio coordinator of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. According to CBS News: "More African-Americans voted in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida than in 2008."

The same thing happened with the Latino vote, which increased as a share of the electorate (from 9 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2012) and broke even stronger for Obama than in 2008 (from 67-31 in 2008 to 71-27 in 2012, according to CNN exit polling). The share of the Latino vote increased in swing states like Nevada (up 4 percent), Florida (up 3 percent) and Colorado (up 1 percent). Increased turnout and increased support for Obama among Latinos exceeded the margin of victory for the president in these three swing states.

We’re still waiting on the data to confirm this theory, but a backlash against voter suppression laws could help explain why minority voter turnout increased in 2012. “That’s an extremely reasonable theory to be operating from,” says Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions, a Latino-focused polling and research firm. “There were huge organizing efforts in the black, Hispanic and Asian community, more than there would’ve been, as a direct result of the voter suppression efforts.” Groups like the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund worked overtime to make sure their constituencies knew their voting rights.

As Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic wrote:

If there is one thing this election has proven, if there is one thing I have come to know, it is that Americans don’t like it when their right to vote is threatened. The very people whose votes the Republicans sought to suppress came out to vote. In places like Akron and Orlando and Denver and Milwaukee, they came. They waited in long lines and endured the indignities of poll workers. Yet they were not cowed. Today is their day. A day when they can look at one another and appreciate that they are truly a part of the history of civil rights in this country.

There are, of course, major caveats to this theory. If voter ID laws had been on the books in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, turnout might’ve shifted in the Republicans’ favor, as the political science literature suggests. (Nate Silver predicted that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law would’ve provided a net 1.2 percent shift to Republican candidates.) We don’t know how many voters were disenfranchised by voter ID laws in states like Kansas and Tennessee or didn’t vote in Florida because of long lines or a felony conviction or were forced to cast a provisional ballot in Ohio that will not be counted. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act could be invalidated by the Supreme Court, which would be a devastating setback for voting rights, and new voting restrictions that were temporarily blocked in state courts could be ultimately upheld.

But, for now, the momentum is shifting away from the GOP when it comes to voting rights. For the first time, in Minnesota, voters defeated a photo ID ballot initiative.

The measure started with a double-digit lead, but opponents of voter ID were able to convince a purple-state electorate that such laws are unnecessary and discriminatory. This could be a harbinger of things to come in other swing states.

In a recent piece in The Nation, I wrote that voter suppression efforts have become the “new normal” in the GOP. Unless or until Republicans get serious about courting an increasingly diverse and younger electorate, they’ll continue to pass laws to undermine the political power of this growing constituency.

But they’ll do so at their own peril. Racial minorities made up 28 percent of the electorate in 2012, up from 26 percent in 2008, and voted 80 percent for Obama. “Romney matched the best performance among white voters ever for a Republican challenger—and yet he lost decisively in the Electoral College,” wrote Ron Brownstein of National Journal. Minorities also accounted for 45 percent of Obama’s total vote. That means that in the not-so-distant-future, a Democrat will be able to win the presidency without needing a majority of white votes in his or her own coalition. In a country with growing diversity, if one party is committed to expanding the right to vote and the other party is committed to restricting the right to vote, it’s not hard to figure out which one will ultimately be more successful.

chaya 10th-Nov-2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
cut pls
evildevil 11th-Nov-2012 04:06 am (UTC)
ragnor144 10th-Nov-2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
I hope that the fight against voter suppression doesn't ease up now that the urgency of the election is over. I like tidy, accurate voter rolls and would like to think that now fair audits can take place with time for people to respond to inquires. I would also like to see a report of legitimate voter fraud. I'm willing to guess that it will show that it comes from the registration end, and not from single voters turning up trying to vote twice. I know I'm a dreamer, but maybe data will be used to drive decisions. And maybe election officials will see that it is in the best interests of the nation to include as many eligible voters as possible, even if it is a temporary disadvantage to your team. And maybe I will find an eager Patrick Stewart and Tom Hiddleston in my bed when I come home. It could happen.
hinoema 10th-Nov-2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
And maybe I will find an eager Patrick Stewart and Tom Hiddleston in my bed when I come home.

There's a combination.

Tom: "I'm so nervous! I don't know what's going to happen! Why me?"

Patrick: "It's all right, trust me. Chicks dig bald."

I agree with what you've said, as well. You can't win a game by hiding the pieces.

Edited at 2012-11-10 05:12 pm (UTC)
moonbladem 10th-Nov-2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
This voter suppression issue by the GOP is dirty and underhanded. I'm glad that voters nationwide turned up and spoke up with their votes. Something however, tells me that this is not the last we'll hear of it.
masakochan 10th-Nov-2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately with the number of GOP folks, with guys like Karl Rove, screeching about how 'the other side' did all the suppression- it definitely won't be the last.
mellawe 10th-Nov-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
We don’t know how many voters were disenfranchised by voter ID laws in states like Kansas and Tennessee or didn’t vote in Florida because of long lines or a felony conviction or were forced to cast a provisional ballot in Ohio that will not be counted

What does that mean? Do they lose their right to vote ?
aviv_b 10th-Nov-2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
Depends on the state. In some they do.
mellawe 10th-Nov-2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
for how long . It seems kind of wrong
aviv_b 10th-Nov-2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Oh I agree - it varies by offense and state. Here's a pretty comprehensive list I found: http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=286

aviv_b 10th-Nov-2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Of all the disgusting things that the Repugs did, this one is at the top of the list. If you think you are the better party with better ideas then convince others and you'll win.

But if you can't, trying to stop people who don't agree with you is not an ethical way to win. Don't tell us you're the party of values when your actions tell a completely different story.
cyranothe2nd 11th-Nov-2012 02:02 am (UTC)
My partner and I were talking today about how we both think that the Republicans/Fox news/ et al have reached saturation level. They just don't have anything new or relevant to offer. Race-baiting, homophobia and class warfare has been rejected by many Americans. At this point they're just clutching at straws, talking about how they need to "soften their message" instead of examining WHY people rejected those messages in the first place (I think they are still telling themselves that it's some weird cult of personality around Obama. Boy won't they be surprised in 2016...)
bushy_brow 11th-Nov-2012 02:21 am (UTC)
talking about how they need to "soften their message" instead of examining WHY people rejected those messages in the first place

It's really pretty sad, actually. "Well, maybe if we top this shit pie with whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherries, we can get more people to try it?" Yeah, no. Still a shit pie underneath, no matter how you dress it up.
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