Tags: Voter | Turnout | the | Only | Thing | that | Matters

Voter Turnout is the Only Thing that Matters Now

Friday, 15 October 2004 12:00 AM

If John Kerry wins, it will be because he turned his candidacy around in the debates. If George Bush loses, it will be for the same reason.

But Democrats aren't talking about the debates anymore. They're talking about winning on the ground, which is a very unusual thing for Democrats to be talking about. Generally, at this time of year, two things are true.

First, Democrats are being outspent. Because of the laws requiring independence, there are no official bookkeepers in this race. But some quick arithmetic tells me Democrats are spending big.

Second, all the pressure is to put the money on television. They start turning off the phones. I've had it happen to me, and I've done it to other people. You don't move votes by calling them on the phone. So the argument goes. It's not happening this year. The Democrats' Media Fund is paying organizers. So is the party. Across the country, Democrats are claiming that they have registered an unprecedented number of new voters, enough at least to match the mythical missing evangelicals.

In spin alley Wednesday night, Democrats whispered good news to each other. There was almost nothing but good news. People passed pieces of paper around. But there was also an edge of real paranoia. Few were willing to say too much aloud lest it bring bad luck.

If this election is close, and there have been irregularities, there will not be a victor on Nov. 2, unless George Bush is willing to concede. Not if the Democrats I know have anything to do with it.

"Drudge" today screams: **World Exclusive** The Kerry-Edwards campaign and the Democratic National Committee are advising election operatives to declare voter intimidation -- even if none exists. "If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet," the Colorado manual states, "launch a 'pre-emptive strike.'"

What Drudge neglects to emphasize is that a "pre-emptive strike" does not consist of a lawsuit challenging the election, but of educational efforts to prepare new voters for possible challenges at the polls.

Which is precisely what Democrats are doing. The email is buzzing. Don't just register and vote. Be prepared to spend the night. My friend Dan Carol, a longtime political consultant, is one of those sending out the message.

Yesterday's story that Voters Outreach of America, a private voter registration company, had trashed Democratic registration forms is not the first of this season; nor will it be the last. On a personal front, my niece called yesterday and told me how her best friend had registered months ago and was getting frustrated with the song and dance that she was not "in the computer." She wanted to know how to fight city hall.

So mark down some numbers and Web sites:

The bottom line, it seems, is to tell new voters to bring their cell phone, a blanket, their camera and some playing cards -- to stay all night if necessary to exercise their right to vote.

In America? You bet.

Red Sox fear animates the Kerry campaign, and Democratic activists across the country. Are they worried that the other side will do anything to win, that they will intimidate voters, not let them vote, steal the election?

The short answer is: yes.

The long answer is: never again.

COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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If John Kerry wins, it will be because he turned his candidacy around in the debates. If George Bush loses, it will be for the same reason. But Democrats aren't talking about the debates anymore. They're talking about winning on the ground, which is a very unusual thing...
Voter,Turnout,the,Only,Thing,that,Matters,Now
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2004-00-15
Friday, 15 October 2004 12:00 AM
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