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Tilting at Windmills

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February 11, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH WASHINGTON?....The behavior of the vote counters in the Republican caucus in Washington is truly bizarre. With 87% of the vote counted on Saturday night and McCain ahead of Huckabee by a razor thin margin of 26%-24%, state GOP chair Luke Esser just stopped counting and declared McCain the winner. Josh Marshall makes the the right analogy here. Weird.

Kevin Drum 12:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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On Sunday, they went up to 93.3% counted, and McCain's lead dropped to 1.6%.

Posted by: Robert Earle on February 11, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

26%! A stunning victory!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 11, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think what will be most interesting is to see what the primary numbers show since the Rethugs take delegates from those results as well. In other words, will Dems still bother with the exercise, and if they do, how will the state wide vote totals look for both parties?

I predict McCain and Huckabee combined won't get as many votes from the Rethug "faithful" as Obama does by himself from the Dems.

Posted by: JeffII on February 11, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

This site: http://www.soundpolitics.org/ pretty much lead the effort regarding crying foul every time there was the most minor discepency with the Governor vote count back in 2006 but are strangely quiet when the GOP can't count votes. Partisan hacks? You betcha.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on February 11, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome to Washington state Republican politics !

Business as usual w/those folks. They no longer even try to act like adults.

He, he, he, he...

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought." - Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi

Posted by: daCascadian on February 11, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this the same state party that went ballistic over the possibility of general election fraud within the last two years because of alleged fraudulent miscounting of votes?

Posted by: Barbara on February 11, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

As usual for Republicans, the election is too important to entrust to the voters.

Posted by: Neal on February 11, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

As usual for Republicans, the election is too important to entrust to the voters.

I laugh at this.

Posted by: SuperDelegate #292 on February 11, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Basically Esser is asking you to trust him that McCain. Nothing more than that. Just trust him, he's seen the results.

Combine this with the crap they pulled in Louisiana (invaliding the votes of Ron Paul supporters) and the GOP establishment keeps finding new ways to embarass itself.

Actually what happen that many Ron Paul supporters (who will walk away with the lions share of the district delegates from these precinct caucuses) listed themselves as uncommitted. At 11% those numbers along give Paul the actual win, regardless of bogus story you'll hear in the media and from the Washington GOP.

Is this a nomination even worth contest anymore? They deserve to be crushed in November.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on February 11, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Huck is staying in the race is to gain the veep slot, and to make it difficult for McCain to pick anyone else. Correspondingly, the reason the WA GOP has its thumb on the scale is to keep Huckabee off the ticket, or at least to make his presence there less of a certainty.

Posted by: kth on February 11, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see what the problem is. McCain, a weak, crappy candidate, needed a win, and the Washington State Repukeliscum Party never lets a comrade down.

Posted by: POed Lib on February 11, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, that should be, "What's the matter with Washington Republicans"! Ain't nothing wrong with us Washington Democrats.

Posted by: Traven on February 11, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

It says something about how far gone the GOP is into vote fraud and malfeasance that now they're not even counting their own voters' votes.

Freedom is on the march!

Posted by: Stefan on February 11, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

From the people who brought you Dino Rossi

'nuff said

Posted by: uri on February 11, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Can't they even bother with nudging Diebold voting machines anymore?

Posted by: Tripp on February 11, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Lee Atwater's spirt infects the GOP from head to foot. This little ballot trick in WA will long be remembered and resented by republican faithfull. It'll be mumbled the way ruby ridge and vice foster are mumbled by hard core conservatives today.
Huck has a right to be pissed but he has to recognize that he is in the party of electoral fraud. All revolutions eat their own, the conservative one is no different.

Posted by: Northern Observer on February 11, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Al will come along any minute now to tell us why this is good news for Republicans.

Posted by: nota bene on February 11, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, this is too easy. The jokes write themselves.

Republicans failing to count every vote when the tally's running against their guy? No one could have possibly predicted etc etc.....

Posted by: nota bene on February 11, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

This fracas the last two days has been so much fun to watch. Pudge at Sound Politics (a WA state GOP blog) is arguing that the caucus results don't really mean anything. Except that when asked in comments why Esser proclaimed (coronated?) McCain "the winner", he dismisses it as nothing more than PR. Then he tries to blame the "MSM" for making a big deal out of this because they don't realize that no candidate actually "won". Instead, caucus goers voted for "delegates", not candidates. See? It's all just a big misunderstanding...

The WA GOP is spinning so fast they're going to pass out.

The funniest thing about all of this is that WA state Dems had HUGE turnout, more than 200,000. They are reports that the GOP may not have had more than 20,000. Yet, the Dems posted results by Saturday night, and the GOP still hasn't posted results! If it quacks like election fraud, and waddles like election fraud...

Posted by: afferent input on February 11, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hilarious! The republicans are stealing their own elections now!

And they've gotten so used to doing it that they forgot they're supposed to hide it.

Or maybe that's just what happens when you get the lesser lights of the republican faithful involved in election rigging. They just aren't that good at it.

Posted by: gypsy howell on February 11, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh, that's the problem with using dirty tricks against your opponents, eventually your opponents will be in your own party.

I think this will widen the fracture between the evangelicals and the necon / big business wings of the party. No matter what the final tally is, evangelicals will (correctly) believe that the party is suppressing their voice. Huckabee now has a stronger populist platform to rally the dissenters and a moral cause to keep him going.

I really think this is going to cripple McCain. Without evangelicals on the ground doing the real work, big checks and swiftboat ads aren't going to be enough.

Time for Obama and even Clinton to mourn a Republican party that has lost its way. It can pick up independents and remind voters of the pattern of abuse in advance of the general election.


First they refused to count the votes of Florida Democrats
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Florida Democrat.

Then they disenfranchised Democratic voters in Ohio
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Democratic voter in Ohio.


Posted by: Tentakles on February 11, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Huck and his supporters sound pretty POed about this - here are the reactions over on his campaign blog:

Posted by: Strolling Amok on February 11, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just the same old song and dance Dirty Tricks performed by the Republican Party and to your real question "What is Wrong with Washington" its called Bush and the Republican Party of Misfits.

Posted by: Al on February 11, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, there is probably a fair amount of people in America who think it's ok to fo things this way, and who you'd have to explain why it's wrong to.

Posted by: Swan on February 11, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

As a Washington voter who had to endure the whining after the 2004 governor's election and was outraged at the firing of Seattle US Atty John McKay because he didn't prosecute this non issue, the schadenfreude runs deep and sweet today. They deserve themselves. And they won't win the governor's house this year either. I don't like Gregoire, but I hate the Rs more.

Posted by: moe99 on February 11, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't our friends on the right demand two recounts in 2004?
...After a bruising election and two recounts, Democrat Christine Gregoire emerged as the winner by a 130-vote margin in Washington state's astonishingly close governor's race.
But Republican Dino Rossi and his supporters say the election is not over yet. He won the first count by 261 votes out of 2.9 million ballots cast, then watched his lead shrink to 42 after a machine recount.
Gregoire's lead in the statewide hand recount widened from 10 to 130 today after a state Supreme Court decision allowed King County to reconsider 732 mistakenly rejected ballots. King County, home of Seattle and a Democratic stronghold, was the last county to report final recount results today. ...

That was then, this is now.

Posted by: Mike on February 11, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

So, does this mean that if Dems don't win the general election by 20%+ that the election was rigged?

Republicans in the era of George W. Bush are looking pretty pathetic. But, are Democrats much better?

Posted by: MarkH on February 11, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Didn't our friends on the right demand two recounts in 2004?"

No, actually they didn't.

Gregoire(D) asked for the hand recount. The machine recount was automatic because the election was so close.

I don't remember if the Republicans tried to get another recount after that, though they probably did as they tried absolutely everything they could think of. In any case there was no legal way for that to happen.

What they did was repeatedly demand the recounts be ignored, try to stop them, tried to get ballots thrown out from the ballots, shrieked that the county with 40% of the states votes had the most additional ballots in the recounts (duh), loose multiple court cases to unanimous decision, complain about the republican secretary of state who said the election was fine, have their election monitors object to a ton of ballots in king county to slow the counting and use the slowness in their pr campaign, make false claims about soldiers inability to vote (Washington really bends over backward to let soldiers overseas vote, basically all they have to do is somehow communicate their preference to the state through military channels, actually Washington generally makes it easy for people temporarily out of the state to vote.), and try to avoid having their heads explode as they refused to note how much more obviously corrupted the florida 2000 presidential election was.

Posted by: jefff on February 11, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

A better analog might be Katherine Harris, Florida's Sec. of State in 2000, who unilaterally decided to stop counting ballots when the state law clearly required that all eligible votes be tabulated.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 11, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

This is a fake story. They stopped for the night. Have fun, though.

Posted by: Mike K on February 11, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

They stopped, but declared a winner before the votes were counted, in a race where there was a less than 2% difference. Stupid anyway you look at it.

Posted by: Tom Stewart on February 12, 2008 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

This fracas is nothing. You should see the arguments the WA GOP used to try to weasel Dino Rossi into the governor's spot. They actually argued in court that when one statistical method favored the GOP, it should be used, and when it favored the Dems, another should be used. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too. The judge, a conservative Republican, basically laughed them out of court. And their efforts at voter suppression are heroic. Fortunately for us citizens of Washington, their efforts are so pathetic and transparent, that they have little influence left in our state legislature.

Posted by: frank logan on February 12, 2008 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Here's hoping Huckabee kicks up a fuss... Just to annoy Republicans who wish he'd just go away. :)

Posted by: e. nonee moose on February 12, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Paul supporters called the state GOP office Saturday why the cout was going so slowly while the Dems, who had far more voters are their caucuses than the GOP, counted their returns much more quickly. Apparently the word was the Dems had 30 paid staffers counting votes while the GOP had two staff persons counting votes. Sheesh! No wonder they wanted to take a break for the night.

Is there anything this party can't screw up? Katrina? Iraq? (To be fair, New Mexico Dems weren't much better).

The GOP basically lets the states decide how to allocate delegates and that's fine with me, but I think it would beehove state GOPs that are going to have caucuses to pick presidential delegates to have open and transparent processes for voting and picking delegates instead of chaos that only benefits party insiders along with plenty of sites for voting.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on February 12, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

First: I would guess that some Candidates do not Like Caucusses because it is very hard to Cheat at a Caucus, as it is done in the light of day, and there are no Diebold machines with no paper trail which can be hacked into at caucusses. That is why California responsibily got rid of their Diebold Machines because they have courageously admitted that they are susceptible to Hacking! HOWEVER, YOU DO HAVE TO COUNT ALL THE VOTES!

Second: Blue-collar workers, teachers, etc., do not work on Saturday or Sunday, so that is not an acceptable excuse for why the Clintons do not do good at caucusess.

Third: Blue-collar workers and teachers are Also for Obama, as are some Latinos, women, etc., because Obama, a unifier, is for all of the People!

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