It's fitting that the National Republican Trust PAC chose today to take Jeremiah Wright to televisions nationwide. If you're superstitious (or an 8th century Celtic Druid), tonight's the night when the underworld opens its gates so the ghouls can arise and wreak havoc. If you're a republican, you hope that you can summon enough angry spirits to scare people away from the Devil's Candidate. You don't even have to listen closely to hear the chants: Jeremiah Wright; Bill Ayers; Rashid Khalidi.
And if you can't change the voters' minds, you prevent some of them from voting at all. I'm in South Florida, where, last time around, the GOP fielded massive teams of lawyers to mount challenges at polling precincts on Election Day, throwing out "suspect" ballots and generally gumming up the works. Their concern about supposed voter fraud was suspiciously focused on the most Democratic precincts of the most Democratic counties, like Broward. The Democrats fielded their own team of lawyers and poll observers to defend the challenges, but it was an unavoidable trap: to argue the merits of one ballot at the box is to slow down the entire process, make the line grow, and discourage people from voting.
I'm back in Broward, but the Disenfranchisement Strike Teams aren't. I've been to several early polling stations, and none of the AFSCME observers had heard of any trouble whatsoever from poll challenges or other GOP hijinx at all in Broward.
"They gave us a list of names," said one of the lawyers organizing the Obama legal defense. "But I don't think they're really showing up this time."
It's a strange concession, since Broward is the county with the most Democrats, the state's blue firewall. The scuttlebutt among Republicans is that McCain's choice of Palin over Charlie Crist let the air out of the Florida state GOP somewhat - there was a wide belief here that Crist was going to be chosen -- and since the state party organizes the lawyers, there has been a softened enthusiasm on that front. The other scuttlebutt is that the GOP lawyers are leaving early voting alone but will show up on Election Day.
But that means they're ceding what will likely be 40% of the vote. A quarter of registered voters have cast their ballot already and there's four days left. At 2pm on a Wednesday, there was a two hour line at one early voting station I visited. And the observers have said it's been like that all day, every day, from 7am to 7pm, since early voting opened on October 20th.
"I think it's over down here," said the Obama lawyer. The nail in the coffin, he says, was Crist's emergency extension of early voting hours. "That means even he thinks its over."
Maybe Halloween isn't going to be scary after all.