With national polls suggesting that Democrats enjoy a healthy lead as we get close to the 2006 election, a lot of commentary and analysis is starting to look at how the expected national swing towards the Dems will or won’t translate into seats in the Congress. Its a great question: how “flat” or “unresponsive” has the seats-votes curve become, say, through pro-incumbent gerrymandering, strategic decisions by would-be challengers giving big margins to incumbents, etc.
My colleague Josh Cohen directed my attention to a column in the blogs section of the NYTimes, with a simple graph showing how the seats-votes curve has flattened over the post-World War Two period. Nice…
All the polling numbers I’m seeing suggest the swing to the Dems will be bigger than the swing to the Reps when they took the House in 1994, perhaps way bigger. But has the seats-vote curve flattened so much that the Reps could take a big hit on (national-level, aggregate) vote share, but not lose the House? No one I know seems to think so, given that anticipated magnitude of the swing, but lets see.
The blogsphere is also buzzing with rumors of voter fraud ahead of the election: e.g., the Prince of Darkness Karl Rove has a vast network of “fixers” in place to steal the election. I doubt it, I hope not, but above all I wish the United States would get serious about professional, non-partisan election administration instead of this ramshackle tangle of amateur embarrassments and partisan chicanery that passes for elections in this the “greatest democracy on the planet”.
In this connection, I must say that I take special comfort in seeing the Republican candidate for Governor in the State of Ohio, Ken Blackwell, going down big time. This is the same guy who is currently Secretary of State in Ohio and hence is “Ohio’s chief election officer” and “…oversees the elections process and apppints the members of boards of elections in each of Ohio’s 88 counties”. In addition,
He supervises the administration of election laws; approves ballot language; reviews statewide initiative and referendum petitions, chairs the Ohio Ballot Board, which approves ballot language for statewide issues; canvasses votes for all elective state offices and issues; investigates election fraud and irregularities; trains election officials and reimburses counties for poll worker training costs.
So, yes, Blackwell is administering the election in which he is a candidate for governor. And not only that, Ken Blackwell was co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, at the same time he administered the conduct of the 2004 election. And of course, Ohio was pivotal in 2004; stories of partisan bias in the way voting equipment was distributed around the state in 2004 are legion, along with the famous (and shortlived) requirement that voter registration applications in Ohio be on 80-pound paper stock. And there are a few stories surfacing already about delays in printing absentee ballots this time around.
In most civilized places, you don’t run elections that way, at least not anymore.