Wednesday, October 13, 2004

ACT: What Poll and Registration Numbers Don't Reveal (washingtonpost.com)

What Poll and Registration Numbers Don't Reveal (washingtonpost.com): "What Poll and Registration Numbers Don't Reveal Passion and Motivation to Vote Are Hard to Gauge

By Terry M. Neal
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2004; 11:43 AM

With less than three weeks before the election, President Bush may be in a politically precarious position going into tonight's critical debate with Sen. John F. Kerry. Anecdotal and quantitative evidence suggest that Democrats and independent groups that support Democrats have done a better job than Republicans at registering new voters in key battleground states. In a normal year, the difficulty in getting the newly registered to the polls might mitigate this advantage. But anti-Bush passions on the left are running exceedingly high, making it more likely that marginal voters -- people who rarely or never vote -- will turn out this year.

"Conventional wisdom tells us that a good ground game means three to four points on Election Day," said Sarah Leonard, a spokeswoman for America Coming Together, a coalition of liberal, feminist and environmental organizations that supports Kerry.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato wrote in his "Crystal Ball" campaign analysis earlier this week that he expects a high turnout that will favor Kerry. "We are tempted to argue that Bush actually needed his full 5 to 6 percent September lead to insure a narrow victory," he wrote.

Part of Sabato's rationale for his prediction is that he thinks poll respondents who say they are undecided today will break somewhat more heavily for Kerry when they get to the voting booth.

For more than a year, a number of independent advocacy groups that support Democrats have worked diligently to identify and register potential Democratic voters. Even Republicans acknowledge that Democratic-leaning groups have registered far more people than Republican supporters.

For instance, America Coming Together says it has registered 400,000 new voters nationwide, the vast majority in the battleground states of Pennsylvania (131,000), Missouri (120,000) and Ohio (85,000).

Moving America Forward, a Latino advocacy group founded by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), announced this week that it had registered 140,000 new, mostly Hispanic voters in the closely divided states of Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada. In Colorado, Florida and New Mexico – the three states that have partisan registration -- about 60 percent of the new registrations have been Democrats, 20 percent Republicans and 20 percent independents, according to a spokesperson for the group.

In a front-page article in the New York Times on Sept. 26, writer Ford Fessenden wrote: "A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states…" The Washington Post has examined this phenomenon in a number of stories that are worth reading. You can see them here and here. One Post story notes that voter registration has surged in Republican-leaning Virginia -- a state not typically considered a battleground -- with the heaviest activity in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the most reliably Democratic part of the state.

Aside from new voter registration, many Democrats and even some nonpartisans believe the polls are not accurately reflecting the intensity of passion felt by those on the left, many of whom will be motivated to vote for the first time out of anger at Bush and his policies.

For example, in the Washington Post/ABC News poll, respondents are asked first if they are registered to vote. They are also asked if they voted in the last presidential election. Those who answer no to the second question (besides 18-to-21 year olds), are excluded from the pool of likely voters. In yesterday's tracking poll, Bush led Kerry 50-47 among likely voters, but Kerry led Bush 48-46 among registered voters. That's means Bush benefits by 5 points when newly registered voters who didn't vote four years ago are excluded.

Remember the Republican Revolution of 1994? Leading up to the midterm election that year, most pollsters and analysts expected GOP gains, but few predicted the ensuing blowout, in part because it was difficult to quantify through polls the emotions that were percolating among white male voters in particular that year.

In many ways, this year's election is all about the president. Poll after poll has shown that he is more beloved among Republicans than Kerry is beloved among Democrats. Both candidates have equal unfavorable ratings among members of the opposing party. Forty-seven percent of independents in yesterday's Washington Post poll have an unfavorable impression of Bush, while 44 percent have an unfavorable impression of Kerry. But what these numbers don't reveal is who will be most motivated to vote.

"Nobody knows for sure what's going to happen," said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, who has long been active in Republican politics. "But hatred is a more reliable motivator than love, particularly in a state like Florida where you have hatred and anger mixed with a thirst for revenge."

Many Republicans argue that Democrats won't be able to motivate the voters they've registered partially because they've relied too heavily on outside groups that use low-skilled hired hands who are notoriously sloppy and often have a large number of registration applications discarded for being incomplete or occasionally even fraudulent. Newspapers around the country have detailed examples of incompetence and worse by people hired by outside groups to register voters.

Republican National Committee spokesman Terry Holt said Republicans, by contrast, have relied little on outside groups to register new voters. The RNC and related groups have registered four million new voters, he said. Democratic National Committee officials refused to give an estimate of the number of people they and their allies have registered.

"All over the country, we see registration breaking records," Holt said. "So both parties are energizing people. But we feel strongly that our efforts are going to help reelect the president because the Kerry campaign has outsourced GOTV (get out the vote efforts) and registration, and we don't know what's going to happen to these folks."

Lara Brown, a visiting scholar at Hendrix College in Arkansas, who has been active in Democratic politics, cautioned against reading too much into the registration boasts of outside groups. For instance, she said, many of the new registrants might simply be new state residents who have voted in other states or people who have moved within their own state.

"A lot of people are just counting the number of forms they have and saying, 'We have 100,000 extra people in our state.' Well maybe, maybe not."

Merle Black, a professor of politics at Emory University in Georgia, notes that the Republicans, who used to dominate the air game but often lost the grassroots ground game to Democrats, have vastly improved their voter turnout operations. And, like Brown, he also cautioned against reading too much into registration numbers.

"Voting is habitual and so is not voting," Black said. "Some of the new voters, if they're registered by someone else, you'd think there'd be a slightly less chance that they'll get out to vote if they were registered by someone else as opposed to someone who is self-motivated.""

Likudnik Patrick Clawson puffs up Hossein Mostafa Khomeini

ANTI-AMERICANISM IN IRAN: "Hossein Mostafa Khomeini, the grandson of Aytollah Ruhollah Khomeini and himself a prominent cleric, speaks eloquently–from the podium of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington–about the importance of individual liberties and a secular state, while applauding America as the embodiment of these values.(10) Indeed, when asked, "What do you think is the best way for the government of the United States to behave in order to encourage the liberation and the freedom of the people of Iran?" Khomeini responded:

The best way is for the United States to help the movement towards democracy, democracy in Iran. They should look at this issue very seriously and not as dispassionately as they have been, waiting for something to happen and then get involved.... One should think how deep the problem and the pressures are in Iran on the Iranian people, that there are so many of them who in fact crave for some sort of foreign intervention to get rid of this calamity."

Mossad's Michael Ledeen on his new friend Hossein Khomeini

AEI - News & Commentary: "Veiled Threats Lure Ayatollah's Grandson Home Print Mail

By Michael A. Ledeen
Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2004
New York Sun
Publication Date: January 6, 2004

Hossein Khomeini, the grandson of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has suddenly returned to his native Iran after several months in Iraq and a quick visit to America.

Iranian news agencies laconically reported the event on Saturday, but it will shortly become a major cause celebre, since Hossein Khomeini had been unstinting in his criticism of the Iranian regime ever since his arrival in Baghdad shortly after the fall the city, when he announced his delight in being able to live in a free country.

Hossein Khomeini is not a major religious figure in Iran, but his bloodline gives him considerable standing in the country, and his clear separation from his grandfather's creation of a Shiite theocracy in Iran was widely seen as very helpful to the large opposition to the regime. He has studied Western philosophy at the theological schools in Qom, the Iranian holy city where most of the leading ayatollahs live and teach, and in public remarks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington last fall, he vigorously supported the principles of separation of mosque and state, total freedom of religion, and even "of nonreligion, since religion must be freely embraced to be meaningful." His return to Iran is therefore a surprise, and sources close to the Khomeini family suggest that he was lured back by a combination of threats and promises. He had been unable to obtain permission for his wife and children to join him in Iraq, and his wife had recently been visited by Iranian security agents who told her, "if your children suddenly die in the streets, you must know that it was not our doing."

His grandmother sent him a message a few days ago, which stressed the importance "for the family" for him to return, warned of the danger to his children, and contained a promise from the regime that no harm would be done to him. Thus, according to the family sources, Mr. Khomeini was blackmailed into returning.

The Khomeini family has long been the object of violence. Mr. Khomeini's father, Mustafah, died suddenly in his fifties in Karbala, Iraq, two years before the Iranian Revolution, after opposing Ruhollah's theocratic movement. The grand ayatollah's son, Ahmad, died young, reportedly from opium addiction, and Mr. Khomeini himself was the target of an assassination attempt in Baghdad. He was saved by coalition forces.

Hossein Khomeini has apparently now joined the long and growing list of regime critics suffering at the hands of the professional killers and torturers whose prime mission is to break the democratic opposition.

In the past few days, American leaders, including the president and the secretary of state, have assured the Iranian people of our support for freedom in that oppressed and unhappy country. They, and all Western leaders and human rights supporters, would do well to reiterate these fine sentiments, and include the name of Hossein Khomeini on the list of the regime's victims.

Michael A. Ledeen holds the Freedom Chair at AEI.


Hossein KhomeiniLinked to Likudnik Front Organization

The California Review Online: "The second is Ayatollah Khomeini. Not that Khomeini, his grandson Hossein Khomeini.

Ayatollah Hossein Khomeini has recently praised U.S. action in Iraq, saying that U.S. action made Iraq a “free” country, and has consistently slammed the Iranian regime. He, as well as a number of other Ayatollahs, recently fled from the holy city of Qom in Iran to practice in Iraq. He spoke on Sept. 26 at the American Enterprise Institute with some less-than-friendly words for the IRI: “Today, after the revolution, Iran is one of the worst dictatorships.”

Hossein Khomeini also slammed Iran’s support for terror. “No Muslim should be allowed to have such activities,” he said. “Unfortunately, Iran is a long supporter of terrorism. This regime is one of the most active supporters of terrorism.” In fact, Khomeini called on the U.S. to get involved and support the democracy movement in Iran. He hoped that Iran’s actions in Iraq would make the U.S. look at Iran.