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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Poll-axed 

You have no doubt read, at Ruy Teixeira's site among other venues, that the Gallup polls showing Bush with a double-digit lead draw from an unbalanced pool of respondents (or perhaps a pool of unbalanced respondents): Republicans are heavily oversampled and Democrats heavily undersampled relative to previous voting patterns. The consensus in blogland is that all this bodes well for Kerry, since his numbers are obviously stronger than a jiggered poll would indicate.

We are not so sure.

We start from the assumption that Gallup is in the tank for Bush: most polls strive for accuracy in demographic sampling, if only because their future credibility is at stake, and the Gallup sample is patently unrepresentative of the general electorate. There has to be a reason. (It's also worth mentioning that new Gallup owner James Clifton is a heavy Republican donor.) If Gallup is indeed functioning as a de facto arm of the Bush campaign, it's possible that the biased poll numbers are meant to buttress Karl Rove's "strategy of inevitability" (basic idea: swing voters like to cast their ballots for a winner. Present your man as the inevitable winner, and presto! He becomes the inevitable winner).

That's the benign interpretation. There's another, less benign interpretation, and we are grateful to our esteemed colleagues at BlondeSense for linking to a brief article that lays it out:
The massive increase in electronic voting machines will make it nearly impossible to detect vote fraud by computer hacking or hidden computer code. Many states are using machines that do not provide a paper receipt to voters. A top executive of one voting machine company at a Republican rally in Ohio promised to do everything in his power to put Ohio in the Bush column in November. He should have been removed as an executive by the company but was not. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has very close ties to another large voting machine company. He is a former top executive of that firm.
In other words, a skewed poll could be intended to cover for a skewed election. A three-point Bush win on Nov. 2 when all the polls showed Kerry up by six on Nov. 1 would be obvious grounds for suspicion. That suspicion could be pre-empted by fixing the polls (or at least some of them) in advance.

A rigged poll also gives Republicans something to scream about if the election happens to go the wrong way. If Kerry wins, expect accusations of Democratic fraud in every state where the vote is close enough to justify a legal challenge.

UPDATE (via Zemblan patriot J.D.): David Sirota's useful catalogue of the election-rigging tactics we have already seen deployed:
There is nothing quite as hypocritical as a politician preaching the virtues of democracy while doing everything he can to destroy it. But as Election Day approaches, that is exactly what is happening.

President Bush is traveling the country bragging about supposedly bringing democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan while waging a stealth campaign far different from his rhetoric here at home. Unwilling to wage a fight within legal bounds and undeterred by the odious stench of the 2000 debacle, the president has deployed his operatives to rig the outcome on November 2.

Before you call this conspiracy theory, read on.

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