Did anyone expect otherwise? News reports that elections officials are purging hundreds of thousands of HispanicLatinos from voter rolls throughout the nation should surprise no one. But as easy to identify potential voters to strike from official voting lists through electronic means is the ability to identify them once they have been removed. President Obama’s campaign has the necessary time and resources to take the steps necessary to protect its flank. Whether its managers do what needs to be done is another matter. But no one should think that average voters – HispanicLatino or not – on their own are going to take the steps to make sure their registrations are in order until they go vote – which could be too late.
You can well believe that outside groups will spend millions on new tactics to suppress voter turnout in Democratic areas most likely through the mail. Democratic campaigns at all levels will be hard-pressed to keep up with the new and clever tactics being designed today, especially for use in the critical battleground states. Yet the knocking-off of voters from the lists is as much of a problem in non-critical states, where efforts to erode local Democratic strongholds – and prevent new ones from establishing themselves – can be decisive for the longer term.
Republican strategists ought to be careful what they wish for: They as easily can trigger voter registration efforts that could add voters to the overall total.
Smart analyses of voter registration rolls can generate lists of purged voters and can identify additional eligible voters who are not registered. Any plan to re-register purged voters most likely will include registering eligible, unregistered voters next door.
Voter intimidation at the polls is harder to implement these days. Modern-day voter intimidation is done electronically, silently and efficiently. Democratic strategists should be able to neutralize electronic voter-purging strategies. Campaign staffs cannot wait for the Department of Justice to do their work for them. They have to make sure and cover all of their bases, so to speak. Looking at lists of lost voters is not enough.
The election in 2000 was lost not just because Democrats failed to respond to the purging of voter lists in Florida. More important, they failed to make sure that the mechanics of the election were up to speed. Assuming that election officials do not make mistakes – like designing chad-inducing ballots – is to assume that such things do not cost elections. But as important in Florida in 2000 was the failure to convert large pools of HispanicLatinos into eligible voters. Had as much focus and attention been placed on potential HispanicLatino voters as was placed on black voters by national Democratic strategists, the election in Florida would not have turned out as it did – not to mention fighting fire with fire when the recount came.
Al Gore’s defeat in 2000 did much to wipe out some of the old campaign hands who never really understood how the country had changed. That was not the case with the GOP, whose trimming of minority voter lists multiplied as the country’s modern-day demography began to take hold. Democrats did not have easy means to respond. They do now.
Today’s technology excuses no one for losing an election in June that they should win in November.
Losing nerve is more the problem.
Feel free to forward these blogs adapted from previous writings, with additional thoughts published invariably in between.