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Tuesday, Nov 2, 2004, 9:56 am

Blog roundup: Recount Spectacular

By Jessica Clark

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In These Times intern Kevin Friedl provided today's window into the blogoverse:

Blogs from across the political spectrum urged readers to vote today, though many remained pessimistic about the possibility of a clean election.

The Nation's John Nichols discusses the shift in focus during the last days of the campaign from battling in swing states to increasing popular vote turnout in "safety states". Nichols argues that both campaigns are making a bid for the popular vote in an effort to delegitimize any possible Electoral College win by their opponent.
Make no mistake, the first goal of the Bush campaign is an Electoral College win. But, failing that, they want a popular-vote win that they can use as part of a push to raise questions about the legitimacy of a Kerry victory in the Electoral College and, if that victory cannot be upset, about a Kerry presidency.

Andrew Sullivan calls it for Kerry, partially on the basis of the last Ohio polls, which included more newly-registered voters than previous polls had done. Newly-regs favored Kerry by a 2-1 margin.

I've been asked to make a prediction. It's so close you'd be a fool to do so now. So I'll stick with my hunch back last March and say Kerry is going to win. I say that simply because Bush's record is too poor to merit re-election. And I trust the American people to realize that. As soon as Kerry proved he was a viable alternative in the debates, he won.

Sullivan also reports on the mysterious phone calls going out to minority-heavy areas of Detroit which claim that a vote for Kerry is a vote for gay marriage. Oh Karl, do you ever have days when it all starts to feel just a bit too easy?

Ana Marie Cox's Wonkette blog offers a handy fieldguide to the talking heads we'll be seeing so much of for the next 12 hours. Some typical entries:

Head: Karen Hughes, GWB alter ego
Plays for: Bush-Cheney
Is on TV Because: Bookers still think she's a man
Specialty: Serving as Mistress of Discipline in the Bush entourage
Distinguishing Characteristic: Makes Mary Matalin seem like a warm, matronly type.
In One Month Is Likely to Be . . . Baking cookies. Arsenic cookies.

Head: Bob Shrum, boss man
Plays for: Kerry-Edwards, himself
Is on TV Because: Twenty years later, still trading on that "dream shall never die speech."
Specialty: The first person to ever chew through an entire pack of Nicorette in one "Meet the Press" sitting.
Distinguishing Characteristic: Everyone hates him.
In One Month Is Likely to Be . . . Plotting to get someone fired from the White House.

Head: Liz Cheney, the not-gay one.
Plays for: Bush-Cheney
Is on TV Because: Speaks in complete sentences, mostly. Also not gay.
Specialty: Reminds people that Dick Cheney has successfully reproduced and is thus capable of human affection in some form. Easily offended.
Distinguishing Characteristic: Did we mention she's not gay?
In One Month Is Likely to Be . . . Redecorating the Cheney summer home to resemble the "undisclosed location" dad grew so fond of.

Michael Moore's site features a characteristically manipulative open letter urging us to vote in order "to honor a soldier from Flint."
We are hours away from what we hope will be the good news about President-elect Kerry. But it won't happen unless each of us puts everything we can into every minute we have left. I'm in Tallahassee this morning, and Cleveland this afternoon. I won't stop 'till the last polls have closed. I promised Lila Lipscomb, the mother from Flint who lost her son in Iraq, that I would do whatever I could to honor her son's last wish in his last letter home to her from the battlefield in Iraq: "What in the world is wrong with George 'TRYING TO BE LIKE HIS DAD' Bush? He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I am so furious right now mama. I really hope they do not re-elect that fool honestly."
Please join me, wherever you are in this great country, and make Sgt. Michael Pedersen's last request to us, the American people, become a reality. We owe it to him and to the rest of the world.

Moore, who will join Roseanne Barr in Cleveland today in a voter-turnout effort, remains upbeat about the possibility of a Kerry victory and ends his letter with a "Rock the Vote"-style appeal to young voters:
P.S. To the millions of 18 to 29-year-olds I've met or seen on this tour, I truly believe YOU are the ones who are going to make the difference today. You are going to vote in record numbers and you are going to be the ones responsible for removing George W. Bush from the White House. You were taken for granted by the pollsters and the pundits for the past year and now you are about to show them just what kind of power the 40 million of you hold in your hands. Sweet! See ya at the victory party!

Sweet dude! See ya at the riot!

Josh Micah Marshall debunks the charges of voter fraud brought by Republican attack dogs against the city of Philidelphia:
Republican observers in Philadelphia lodged some of the earliest complaints, claiming that voting machines in the city already had thousands of votes recorded on them when the polls opened at 7 a.m.
City election officials and the district attorney rushed to some of the precincts in question, and quickly said the GOP poll watchers had gotten it wrong.
Deputy City Commissioner Ed Schulgen and Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Lynne Abraham, said the observers had pulled the numbers from an odometer that records every vote ever cast on the machine in every election - and not the counter that records how many votes will be counted for this election.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Schulgen said. Ridiculous or not, rumors of widespread fraud quickly made their way on to the Internet and circulated nationally.

Mark Blumenthal's includes an informative piece on the reliability of exit polling and what it can actually reveal about how the election is going.

Listen, I understand human nature, and I'm not going to try to change it. We are all intensely curious about what is going to happen tonight, and most of us will find a way to peak at leaked exit polls at some point today. I just want you to know that those leaked exit polls really don't tell us much more about the outcome of the race than the telephone polls we were obsessing over just a few hours ago. Even if we wanted to call a race on unweighted, unfinished, mid-day exit polls alone (something the networks will not do), we would need to see differences of 10-15 points separating the candidates to be 95% certain of a winner.

Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).

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