Republican Dirty Tricks
A while back, it seemed that significant majorities of the public considered the Bush administration and the Republican Congress both to be failures, but as the actual election nears, voters seem to be backing off a bit from the same "throw the bums out" mentality. A Pew Research poll released today shows only a four-percent differential between likely voters who plan to vote for a Democratic candidate and those who plan to vote Republican. Other polls provide a larger differential, which means any movement toward Republicans just aren't moving quickly enough for the GOP. So that means they go back to the dirty tricks they know so well.
One of the biggest dirty tricks that's raising its ugly head in the last days of the campaign is a fake robo-call that appears to be from Democratic candidates but then provides negative information about them. In many cases, if the person receiving the call hangs up, the calls ring back, harassing the person being called. That sounds like an awfully effective way of turning voters off of Democratic candidates. Talking Points Memo has been following this in quite a bit of depth. The AP actually had a story on it last week (although it didn't report the harassment of calling back over and over and over), and Republicans, particularly the National Republican Campaign Committee, owned up to them but denied any illegal activity. That remains to be seen, but if there is anything against the law, it will only be discovered after the calls have had whatever affect on the election they will have. Josh Marshall probably has the best overall discussion of the calls, although he revises his advice on how recipients of these calls can do in response in a later post.
These calls have been making appearances throughout the country. Nancy Boyda, a Democrat running for Congress in Kansas, even put an alert about them on her campaign Website. Talking Points Memo notes other instances in New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and Connecticut. Locally, they've passed along information from readers that Tammy Duckworth and Melissa Bean have been targeted, as well.
How will these affect the elections? As we get closer to November 7, it seems that everything will revolve around turnout, and voters who don't get the news that these harassing calls actually come from Republicans rather than the Democratic candidates they seem to serve might just tend to stay at home, thus depriving those Dems of votes they rightfully should receive.