Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Whether Russians, rigging, or legit, WisGOP helped by lower voter turnout in 2016

By this time, you're probably aware of the Russian government's efforts to hack into registered voter databases in several states, and took some voters' private information int he process. As of this time, there is no evidence that vote totals were changed after ballots were cast, but that leaves out the question of whether potential voters were either influenced by targeted propaganda, or if changes in registration information or GOP voter suppression measures prevented them from casting ballots in the first place.

And if you look at the results in Wisconsin, a key state where Donald Trump broke through the "blue wall" on the way to his upset victory, combining the Russian hacking story with November's results should give you pause. That's because Wisconsin had one of the largest dropoffs in voter turnout in America in 2016, with the total vote for president dropping by more than 92,000 votes compared to 2012. And more remarkable is where the largest drops in the state were- in Dem-leaning cities in southeastern Wisconsin.

Take a look at this chart, and notice that the cities of Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Janesville and Beloit had significant dropffs vs 2012. By comparison, the more Republican-voting remainder of the counties those cities were in had small dropoffs, and the rest of the state had little dropoff at all.

If the Russians and the Republicans wanted to suppress the vote and increase their chances of winning in Wisconsin, this would be the types of turnout changes they'd want.

The pattern of low turnout in blue Wisconsin cities repeats if you look at last year's Senate election between Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold.

And when voters cast ballots in that race, few were aware of the extent Russian hacking, its effect on what they were seeing online, and their possible effect on voter turnout. They also didn't know that Ron Johnson was fully aware of the Russian interference, and said nothing and did nothing. Remember this article from Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy from January.
As chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson was one the so-called “Gang of 12,” the top 12 congressional leaders, who were invited to the meeting. (House Speaker Paul Ryan also attended the meeting.) Johnson later confirmed to Politico that he participated in the briefing.

“In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals,” the Post reported...

Johnson, in short, had an opportunity to be a patriot and condemn the fact that Russia was now engaged in such activities in the United States. But he issued no resolutions — in fact, not one word — on Russian’s cyber attacks on America.

Worse, he has engaged in his own pattern of misinformation on the subject. After the CIA publicly released a report in January concluding that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election, Johnson issued a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal saying he would “would need more definitive information before drawing further conclusions.” Johnson did not reveal that he had been informed back in September this was happening.

Johnson went on to complain to CNBC that the CIA refused to brief him on Russian hacking, saying “I have not seen the evidence that it actually was Russia,” while failing to note the CIA report’s echoed the briefing he’d received from other intelligence leaders in September.

We now know that President Obama informed both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate GOP Leader McConnell about the Russian interference and asked them to be part of a bipartisan front against it, but because McConnell whined that Obama was trying to tilt the election towards Clinton and Senate Dems, the Obama Administration backed down from more public exposure of the Russian hacking before the November election. That strategy really didn't work well, did it?

Now to be clear, I'm not saying that it voter suppression that caused these changes. It's entirely possible that Hillary Clinton was such an uninspiring candidate that Dems (and especially African-American Dems in Milwaukee) didn't want to turn out for her like they did for Barack Obama, and/or Team Hillary/DNC/DPW dropped the ball when it came to increasing turnout in those Dem cities. Some of it could be related to population declines in some of these cities and counties over the last 4 years. Certainly the change in where the votes came in could account for why polls were off when they indicated before the November election that Clinton and Feingold would win close elections in Wisconsin.

But I'm sure Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Ron Johnson were happy to see the drop-offs in votes fro, those pro-Dem cities in southern Wisconsin. And I'm betting that reality is why these guys don't seem too fired up to look into how the Russians fucked with our elections last year, and what steps we can take to prevent it in 2018 and 2020. That's a dereliction of their taxpayer-funded jobs, but at the same time, not that surprising with today's Republican Party.


  1. In hindsight, there were a number of dynamics working against Clinton - not the least of which was 25 years of Republican trashing on the Clinton brand. And that was before the Benghazi circus, the email fiasco and the last minute knee-capping by Comey.

    Add in the fact that she didn't even show up in Wisconsin and generally ran a tepid, intellectual campaign.

    Add in the Bernie Sanders/DNC clustermuck, and she was a seriously damaged candidate.

    Personally, I think she should have made Bernie her VP. In hindsight, it might have brought enough Bernie supporters to the polls to swing WI, MI and PA.

    1. All true (other than Bernie as VP, wouldn't make sense for either person). But when you read about Kobach demanding voter info for Trump/Pence's voter suppression,board, you gotta start wondering if there's something else to the lower turnout in Dem cities.