Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Identity Theft vs. Minority Vote Suppression: Proof Positive that Virginia is a Battleground State

The battle lines seem to have been drawn in Virginia in the race for the White House as Monday the commonwealth's GOP chairman added a new twist to the story of record Democratic registration in the Old Dominion and across the nation. Jeffrey Frederick accused the Obama campaign and local canvassing organizations of colluding to register new minority voters in Virginia and in some cases to do so fraudulently. His claims were based on the arrests last week of three canvassers accused of submitting fraudulent registration forms in the Hampton area of Virginia. Now, this sort of accusation isn't new. However, Frederick added that voters -- or potential voters in this case -- should steer clear of canvassers because of the potential for identity theft. Identity theft?!? Really? Of course, Democrats in the state were quick to counter Frederick's opening salvo with the old standby accusation that minority vote supprssion was Frederick and GOP's aim.

This appears a fascinating development until it is recalled that Virginia was a member of the confederacy and no stranger to racial tensions in the electoral arena. Honestly, this is simply an extension of the back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in the state during the 2006 midterm elections. That George Allen/Jim Webb race for the senate was never lacking in racial cues; from Allen's "macaca" slur to the accusation that Webb had used the N-word. The addition of the identity theft angle, though, is a clever one meant to subliminally seep into the electorate's consciousness in a way similar to the way Obama's recent trip overseas has been purported to have advanced the idea of Obama as acting president.

But again, this is a logical extension to what we have seen during recent electoral cycles. Frederick's comments cannot neceessarily be equated to the efforts of fictitious groups to caution minority voters that even minor legal infractions disqualify voting, but in the minds of Democrats, they operate on the same plane. That those events (see link above) occurred in Wisconsin, a swing state in its own right recently, furthers the idea that Virginia is, indeed, a closely contested battleground for this cycle. And it is, surprisingly or not. The demographics in the state have certainly shifted with the African American voting bloc coalescing with a growing Democratic bastion in Northern Virginia to pull the state toward Democrats; toward the Democrats and into the purple. And in a competitive environment, the onus is on the parties to find potential voters to swing the state in one direction or another. That's about the time voter fraud accusations start to fly.

Related: FiveThirtyEight on the Tim Kaine as VP speculation.

Recent Posts:
Iowa and Nebraska: The Caucus Question 2008 Wrap Up

An Update on the Rasmussen "Leaners" and a Look at How They Affect the Electoral College

The Electoral College Map (7/27/08)

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