Thursday, July 25, 2013


The Daily Beast's Richard Hasen thinks voter suppression in North Carolina could backfire:
There seems little doubt that the Republican legislature has passed these laws in an attempt to gain partisan advantage. As Nate Cohn explains, a recent study by the State Board of Elections on just the voter-ID portion of the [North Carolina] law certainly would have its greatest negative impact on nonwhite voters likely to vote for Democrats, and likely many other parts of the law will as well.

But if state Republicans think that this is their ticket to electoral victory, they may be in for an unpleasant surprise. To begin with, as Cohn points out, the effects of voter-identification laws on turnout are modest, more modest than both Republicans and Democrats likely believe. If nothing would be done in response to all the diverse provisions of the North Carolina law, the effects could be more serious.

There is good reason to think, however, that there will be a strong reaction from Democrats, minority voters, and voting-rights activists if this law passes. Litigation to bar paid voter-registration drives will probably be struck down. Activists will spend considerable energy seeking to negate the effects of these laws and to increase turnout.

In addition, a law such as House Bill 589 will energize Democrats. As I've argued, voter-suppression efforts often backfire, perhaps increasing fundraising and turnout on the left. The bill gives Democrats a great cause to rally around in North Carolina even as they will spend significant resources fighting the restrictions.
Ross Douthat agrees:
... precisely because the liberal outrage over voter ID laws is disproportionate -- for understandable historical reasons and cynical political reasons alike -- to their actual impact, it is quite possibly self-defeating for Republicans to keep pushing them. In exchange for a marginal benefit to their candidates on election day, the G.O.P. is handing Democrats a powerful symbolic issue for mobilizing minority voters, and sending a message to African-Americans that their suspicions about conservatism are basically correct, and that rather than actually doing outreach to blacks the right would rather not have them vote at all.
If this is accurate, it's not the only example in recent life of a powerful group choosing to punish the less powerful at a cost to itself. Look at the economy over the last six years. Yes, the rich are doing fine, but even they must realize that they'd be doing better if the rest of us had a little more money to buy goods and services. But here and in Europe they'd rather work the system to make sure it keeps punishing us. It's as if hurting the people they hate -- us "takers" -- is so soul-satisfying to them that they'd rather do it to us forever than have a sustained economic recovery.

The Republican Party clearly feels the same way about non-whites: let's keep alienating black and Hispanic voters, let's abort all attempts at outreach, and let's sustain that effort even if it means the GOP can't win another presidential election for the foreseeable future. It's as if the hate is just too satisfying not to indulge, no matter what the cost.

And if voter suppression leads to a backlash and higher turnout of suppressed groups, maybe they'll just double the hate and suppression, and thus double the backlash. Maybe they'll never learn.


aimai said...

I love the Douthat quote. Its pure Douthat. He seems able to articulate exactly what is going on: Voter ID laws are aimed at suppressing the non white and democratic vote but he still thinks and writes as though the only people who matter are Republican politicans and voters. He's sad because this may backfire on them. He doesn't perceive it as immoral or anti democratic becuase, look! Democrats are cynical when they point it out!

He basically says the same thing whenever he has to discuss the crimes of the church. He wrings his hands that this stuff "makes the church look bad" but he spares only a second's worth of pity for the victims.

He's such an authoritarian suck up.

Aaron Baker said...


Victor said...

More like Douchehat thinks that the Earth goes round "The Son."

I suspect that he's a good little Authoritarian because he's seen more than his share of Priest's meat-mitre's when he was an altar boy.

And why take a wafer and wash it down with some watered down wine, when you can have some man-meat and take the taste out of your mouth with some of the Scotch Father has hidden in the Rectory?

For medicinal purposes only, of course!

Philo Vaihinger said...

How to win and keep ideological control of a party: ignore pleas that you have to move to the center or the party will keep losing elections. Remember? Or have you forgotten your own advice?

Leah said...

I read this post with dread, fearful that, as you often do so well, you were going to tell us at the end why Hazen is wrong, and all hope of an effective backlash should be abandoned forthwith.

I don't say this as a criticism, your commitment to a realist's view of right-wing political effectiveness and your refusal of all manner of knee-jerk liberal/progressive hopefulness is what draws me here on a daily basis, although I'm old enough to call myself a liberal, and both of my newly implanted artificial knees jerk with the best of them.

Your analysis on this one strikes me as spot on, although it's going to take some real organizing on the ground to take advantage of any backlash.

Aimai, thanks for the perfect take on Douthat, which is also evident in his writing about abortion; the mother in whom the "baby" resides is a non-person in his Catholic perspective; her needs, her health, her life don't matter; they don't even register as any kind of reality.

Lex Alexander said...

It's as if the hate is too satisfying not to indulge, whatever the cost.

Bingo. These people are sociopaths, plain and simple. For them, politics long ago ceased to be about what's best for the country; it's now all about I've Got Mine, Fuck You (Harder). At this point, they haven't met a golden-egg-laying goose they won't shotgun and roast tout de suite, including the U.S. middle class.