This is it -- the final stretch in which George W. Bush and John Kerry fight for every vote in every battleground state. As expected, political pundits are all now stressing the role voter turnout will play next Tuesday. But conventional wisdom about turnout methods and levels has been turned upside down with several states allowing early voting. And already, the system designed to allow greater voter participation is having unintended consequences.
Potentially disastrous consequences.
Consider the case of the battleground of battleground states, Florida. Our latest InsiderAdvantage tracking poll in that state has shown Bush and Kerry statistically tied throughout last weekend and into early this week with roughly 46 percent. And with early voting having commenced there, we are actually polling a vote that already is underway. Democratic operatives have cleverly found ways to potentially game the early-vote system, thus potentially rendering polls and pundits helpless and making attorneys in Lear jets a likely necessity.
For example, each and every day since early voting began, a convoy of vans sporting Kerry-Edwards signs has rolled up to a critical early-voting location in West Palm Beach. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing the vehicles arrive around 11:00 each morning, unloading scores of primarily senior voters -- inclined to vote Democrat -- who then form long lines around the building.
Those who venture out during their lunch break -- often younger voters more inclined to support President Bush -- say they see these repeated lines each day and realize they simply don't have time on their lunch break to make it through the process in time to get back to work. Hence, they aren't voting early.
Is there anything wrong or illegal in the Democrats' move? No, it's just smart strategy. But does this system place other voters at a potential disadvantage? Certainly. For one thing, Democratic organizers know right where to go in order to coordinate such mobile voter-delivery efforts. Retirement centers and certain condominiums are high Democrat-leaning locations where rounding up like-minded voters and hauling them to the polls is easily accomplished.
Republican voters, many of whom live on suburban streets or are working in far-flung locations during the day, are not so easily coalesced. Imagine a bus coming into a suburban neighborhood offering a ride to early-voting locations. I guess some of that might be going on, but suburbanites are usually less likely to pile on a political bus to go vote in the middle of the day.
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