THE NEXT BIRTHERISM?
Let's say it's a tight race between Barack Obama and whoever emerges from the GOP scrum -- the Real Clear Politics poll summary currently has Obama leading Romney by less than a point, and though Obama has a much bigger lead over Gingrich, the economy isn't getting better all that quickly, and it's impossible to know what could happen in Europe in the next year. So if it's Obama vs. Gingrich, that could be close, too.
So imagine Obama ekes out a win in November, barely ahead in the popular vote and with one or two tight states separating him from the Republican in the Electoral College. Now, imagine that this comes after Eric Holder has promised an aggressive pushback against Republican laws restricting voter participation:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday entered the turbulent political waters of voting rights, signaling that the Justice Department would be aggressive in reviewing new voting laws that civil rights advocates say will dampen minority participation in next year's elections....
Do you think the aftermath of such a squeaker victory might be the point at which the demagoguing of the "massive Democratic voter fraud" myth goes utterly mainstream? By which I mean that prominent Republican officeholders and officials may literally not accept the results of the 2012 election, and may work to get them overturned, or at least to make hearings on the subject the main business of Congress (or whatever part of Congress is GOP-controlled)? And isn't it possible that, if they work this hard enough, it could actually seem credible to parts of the mainstream press, even though the "evidence" will be overwhelmingly anecdotal and mostly irrelevant (e.g., Mickey Mouse's signature showing up on petitions before being invalidated under the usual perfectly adequate fraud-detection procedures)?
This stuff pumps up the rubes, and Republicans use it as the basis for restrictive laws in the states, but they don't seem to try to sell the voter fraud myth to the broad general public in a serious way. Under these circumstances, would they make a mainstream move with it? And could they get, say, The Washington Post to bite? Could they effectively nullify Obama's reelection that way?
(X-posted at Balloon Juice.)