For all of the joy the Left takes in declaring that it has a monopoly on facts and data and faith in both - and its insistence that only racists believe fraud at election time is possible - we're really only one national election loss away from an outbreak of whackadoo conspiracy theories about Republicans stealing elections. (Actual headline at TPM today: "Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy"). You can see those bubbling up already at the far-Left site Alternet, which has recently peddled theories that election fraud cost Democrats the Kentucky Governor's race and - horrors! - defeated the referendum in Ohio to legalize marijuana.
The Kentucky theory, in which Brad Friedman of BradBlog (drawing on a post over at Crooks & Liars) breathlessly asks, "Did GOP Insiders Steal the Kentucky Governor's Race for Tea Partier Matt Bevin?," is based entirely - I kid you not - on the notion that it's impossible that Bevin would run better than some other Republican candidates on the ballot:
As detailed on today's program with my guest Karoli Kuns of Crooks And Liars, there are a number of reasons to question the reported results. Among them, as Kuns points out today at C&L, the Democrats running in the down ballot races --- for Secretary of State, Attorney General (Conway's current job) and even state Auditor --- each reportedly received tens of thousands more votes than Conway did at the top of the ticket!
Bev Harris, of BlackBoxVoting.org, described the higher vote totals in the down ballot races as a "significant anomaly". She tells me that, at least until more records are requested and examined, the KY-Gov's race "has to be looked at as a questionable outcome, particularly because of the discrepancies in the down ballot races. More votes in those races and not at the top...that just doesn't happen."
Well, actually yes, that exact thing happens all the time. It's all there - disbelief that the polls could be wrong, conspiracy theories about voting machines, endorsement of a book purporting to show "how the GOP suppressed and stole votes in Ohio's 2004 presidential election."
The piece by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman arguing that the pot referendum was "Stolen," is even funnier, as you can see from its opening:
Expert Says Ohio's Vote Against Pot Legalization Was 'Statistically Impossible'
The conclusion that the vote was stolen is almost inescapable.
The “stolen election” controversy over this month’s officially defeated Ohio pot legalization referendum has gone to a new level.
You keep using that term, "statistically impossible." I do not think it means what you think it means. Here's the "expert" analysis:
The Columbus Free Press asked Baiman to calculate the odds of the official vote count of Ohio’s Issue 3, to legalize marijuana, being correct – compared to the tracking polls charting voter preference leading up to this year’s November election. The Free Press supplied Baiman with poll results taken prior to the election by noted pollster Jon Zogby.
The polls leading into the November 3 vote showed the referendum passing. But the official results claim it lost by 2:1.
The standard assumption with such polling is that the undecided voters in the poll would have potentially gone 50-50. Thus half of them would be voting no and the other half would be voting yes on Issue 3. Baiman pointed out that with such an assumption being probable, the odds against the referendum losing 2:1 go through the roof. They are, he said, “one in a trillion.”
The analysis showed that even if the most illogical outcome is assumed – that every single undecided voter in the polls voted against Issue 3 – it is still statistically impossible to accept Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s official tally as being credible.
If the Zogby poll was accurate, says Baiman, one would expect the official outcome as reported by the state once in every 105,000 elections.
Yes, that Zogby, who has been the laughingstock of the polling industry since 2002. Yet Alternet breathlessly concludes:
There can be only two explanations for this.
Ohioans can assume that the well-funded corporate multimillionaire growers backing Issue 3 who hired highly-regarded pollsters were given made-up drivel as the poll results. Or, Ohio’s notoriously corrupt, antiquated and highly-vulnerable voting system was hacked or manipulated by partisans like Ohio’s Secretary of State Husted.
Well, no. In fact, with no major statewide elections in Ohio - to say nothing of the inherent difficulty of polling referenda - sane analysts recognized beforehand that the polls could well be worthless in light of the difficuly in predicting turnout:
A poll conducted by Zogby Analytics for Bowling Green State University in October found 44 percent of likely Ohio voters support Issue 3, 43 percent oppose it and nearly 13 percent were undecided...
Marijuana legalization hinges on who goes to the polls Tuesday. Odd-year election year turnout has averaged 38.5 percent over the past 20 years. Off-year voters tend to be white, older and more conservative — those who typically oppose legalization. Still, ResponsibleOhio is gambling that marijuana legalization will drive younger, atypical voters to the polls and they are trying to appeal to the solid majority of voters who support medical marijuana.
Early voting numbers reported last week by the Secretary of State did not show promise for a big turnout.
A University of Akron poll noted that voters were deeply skeptical of the state-granted monopolies that the referendum would produce, making support for the overall goal shaky, as did a Bowling Green State University poll.
As it ended up, turnout was unexpectedly high, but the people who turned out weren't - turnout to vote on the pot referendum exceeded the turnout for John Kasich's re-election against an overwhelmed opponent in 2014, and the voters who showed up were decisively opposed. Maybe, just maybe, people who are really in favor of pot smoking are not the most reliable at showing up on time to do stuff. And maybe the polls were just really bad at predicting turnout for a referendum.
But for the kooks over at Alternet, there's no such thing as a legitimate election when their side loses.