Dwight Meredith, of the "Wampum"
website, has made a number of good points and prompted me to sharpen the analysis of the 2004 Florida voting results that I first covered in my prior posts "Classic Rovian Misdirection"
and "Ohio Was A Diversion."
Dwight points out that in rural areas of Florida voters tend to be "dixiecrats", i.e., registered democrats who habitually vote republican. This is absolutely true in rural counties in Florida, just as it is true throughout the south. But what is surprising is not that these counties would support Bush, but that they did so in 2004 in numbers so startlingly different than in the last pre-Bush presidential election: 1996. Here are the 1996 election results for the small, rural counties that I cited in my prior post:
What is striking is that Clinton won most of these counties in 1996. Even assuming that most (say, 70%) of Perot votes came from Dole, Clinton still would have won many of these counties and ran strong in most others even without the Perot factor. Compare to this table
which shows Bush winning by better than 2 to 1 in eleven of these 26 counties. Man, that's a seismic shift in voting patterns.
What is even more striking is that the difference between 1996 and 2000 is almost as great. Gore, although running ahead of Clinton's 1996 pace statewide, got clobbered in these counties. We can all agree that John Kerry would not fair as well as Bill Clinton in these Florida counties, but Gore should have faired nearly as well as Clinton. He's southern, and actually received a higher percentage of the vote in Florida than Clinton did in 1996. What was the big difference between 1996 and 2000? The Bushies. (Optical scans certainly were in much wider use in 2000 than in 1996, but were common in Florida in 1996.)
These kinds of apparent voting abberations don't prove anything, but they do suggest that other factors may be at work. My point is not that this proves fraud, but that this information, considered with other evidence, suggests that the small Florida counties are where we should be looking for vote fraud.
Dwight also makes the point that the Florida supervisors of elections in the various small, heavily democratic counties should be democrats. Perhaps, but the concern here should be the optical scan machines, and any fraud would likely be the product of systematic manipulation of the op-scan machines or software, not vote-rigging by the county election officials.
Dwight also suggests that these counties were "fine-toothed" in 2000, but that's not really the case. What's required here is manual recounts, and the 2000 manual recounts were limited to those large counties where Gore and the democrats expected to mine large deposits of undercounts. These small counties were not manually recounted.
Rove didn't want us looking in Florida. Where did you keep hearing the phrase "Ohio could be the Florida of 2004"? The cable news networks, Rove's echo chamber. Hell, Florida is the state where the President's brother is governor, where things were so messed up in 2000, where Jeb Bush was caught earlier this year screwing with the felon purge list. Rove was delighted for the media to be suggesting that any place other than Florida might be the "Florida of 2004." Where did the republicans engage in a massive pre-election litigation campaign? Ohio. Where did they make a big stink about "challengers" being present at the polling places? Ohio. Was it because they expected Ohio to be tight? Well, as a matter of fact, Bush was looking pretty good in Ohio, up by a few points in most polls, whereas things were tighter in the pre-election polls in Florida. Just check out RealClearPolitics.com for confirmation of this, where their poll-of-polls had Bush up by an average of more than 2 points in Ohio, but by only half a point in Florida. Florida is where they expected the tightest race. The 5 point margin in Florida must have surprised the hell out of even Rove.
Or perhaps it didn't surprise Karl at all.
Ohio was just a diversion. Florida is where we're most likely to find vote fraud, aided and abetted by the prez's younger bro. And it's in the small counties where no one is paying attention. As one of my more historically astute friends points out, when Landslide Lyndon Johnson stole the 1948 senate election in Texas, he didn't fool with Houston and Dallas - he manipulated the vote in the small, rural Texas counties.
Remember, this isn't about a recount. As Dwight notes, the number of votes in these small counties won't amount to enough to permit Kerry to overcome a deficit of hundreds of thousands of votes in Florida. No, this is about revealing vote fraud in Florida. It's about whether the Bushies attempted to steal this election, regardless of whether or not they succeeded.