by Max Brantley
I heard from him yesterday. I judge from his anger that Mitt Romney's stonewalling of questions about his income taxes and his tone-deaf support of windfall tax breaks for people like Mitt Romney are getting some traction. That was the message on cable TV last night, based on promising polling results for President Obama in key swing states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
But wait .....
Polls only measure the sentiment of "likely voters." How many of those people actually will vote?
For one thing, he notes, actual voting rarely matches the professed intentions of people to vote. No one wants to admit they won't vote. But then there's the orchestrated Republican vote suppression factor.
Then there are the new voter restrictions that are likely to trim the voter rolls and add tremendous voter confusion.
Pennsylvania has passed a highly restrictive photo ID requirement for its voters. A study conducted by professors from the University of Washington and the University of New Mexico found that more than a million registered voters in Pennsylvania and 757,325 people who voted in 2008 lack a valid ID under this scheme. More than a third of registered voters are unaware that a photo ID law even exists.
This means that a lot of people who say that they are likely to vote may not actually be eligible to vote. (Arguments in a suit contesting the Pennsylvania law are being heard this week .)
Now to Florida and Ohio: both states have cut their early voting periods. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, more than a million people who voted in Florida and Ohio in 2008 did so on days that have been eliminated.
Florida, where Tim Griffin played in the vote caging game, is purging voters again this year, with little concern for tossing legitimate voters.
Arkansas Republicans are pushing hard, of course, for voter ID laws that disproportionately impact Democratic-friendly voter segments. But they also want to limit early voting. We ought to encourage more voting. By postcard. By Internet. By hundreds of poll locations in shopping malls and elsewhere that are accessible seven days a week. Dream on if the GOP takes control. Fully participatory democracy runs entirely too much risk of the wrong sorts of people having a strong voice in outcomes.