Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ohio News Reporters Aren't Finding Fraud

It's been a month since the elections and the Secretary of State for Ohio is due to release the certified vote tally for Ohio on December 7. All this means, of course, is that the Democratic supporters and other opposition to President Bush are moving their allegations of voting fraud from the left-wing blogs into the courtrooms. The accusations are many, but any evidence of wrongdoing appears to be, well, rather thin. And that's putting it politely. Now comes news that the Ohio newspapers have been looking into the allegations as they come up and - guess what? - they're not finding any fraud.

::::::::Those who believe that something's rotten in the state of Ohio, that it mishandled the Nov. 2 election, shouldn't hold their breath waiting for a revelation from the state's major papers that might call into question President Bush's victory.

While most of the top dailies there say they are following, if not probing, each accusation, many coming from liberal blogs, none of the editors who spoke to E&P this week find the allegations highly convincing or plan to devote major resources to them.

"We have been chasing them down as they come up, and a lot of them are so groundless," said Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. "We are finding that there were some legitimate counting errors and glitches in the computer system. But they were found and we have found no evidence of conspiracies or anything showing that the outcome would have been any different."

He's not alone. Ben Marrison, editor of The Columbus Dispatch, says, "We have written a lot about it, but we have found very little evidence that anything has happened in the election that didn't happen in every other [Ohio] election. Every rock we have turned over, we've found nothing." The only item of contention his paper found was that there were too few voting machines at polling places, but, he add, that was in both Republican and Democratic precincts. Poor planning, perhaps, but equally applied. The Cincinnati Post, AP's Ohio division, and the Blade in Toronto all report the same thing. No fraud, no indication of anything that will change the result of the vote significantly from Bush's 136,000 vote win. Lest anyone think that it's just the Republican or ring-wing side of the aisle that's saying that, it should be noted that the Steve Rosenthal, Ohio president of America Coming Together (ACT), which performed a herculean effort in getting out the Democratic vote and which was allied with both the Kerry campaign and, has concluded that the Democrats lost Ohio. His editorial in the Washington Post this morning, titled "OK. We lost Ohio. The question is, why?" makes his feelings on the matter clear. What's his take on "moral values" being what won the election for Bush? According to the post election survey conducted by ACT:

:::::::: The reason Kerry lost the election had much more to do with the war in Iraq and terrorism than the political ground war in Ohio. Terrorism trumped other issues at the polls -- including moral values -- and anxious voters tended to side with Bush.

  • By 54 percent to 41 percent, voters decided that Americans are now safer from terrorist threats than four years ago, national exit polls said.

  • By 55 percent to 42 percent, voters accepted Bush's view that Iraq is a part of the war on terrorism. By 51 percent to 45 percent, they still approved of the decision to go to war (though a majority expressed concerns about how the war is going).

  • Just 40 percent said they trusted Kerry to do a good job handling the war on terrorism, compared with 58 percent who felt that way about the president.

The Bush campaign was able to persuade some voters who supported Gore in 2000 to turn to Bush in 2004 on the issues of terrorism, strength and leadership. Bush bested Kerry among those who voted in 2000 by five percentage points -- Bush bested Gore in 2000 by three points.

The other major factor was our side's failure to win the economic debate. Despite an economy that was not delivering for many working people in Ohio, the exit poll results show that voters in Ohio did not see Kerry providing a clear alternative. Just 45 percent expressed confidence that Kerry could handle the economy, compared with Bush's 49 percent.

The GOP put on a strong mobilization effort, but that's not what tipped the Ohio election. They did not turn Gore voters into Bush voters by offering a ride to the polls. Instead, it was skillful exploitation of public concern over terrorism by the Bush team -- coupled with Democrats' inability to draw clear, powerful contrasts on the economy and health care -- that pushed Bush over the finish line.

And that's pretty much what I've been saying. I must state that Rosenthal's survey accurately captures the reasons I voted the way I did. I'm glad to see someone in the media publishing it.