Beyond the effort to incite some of the most extreme elements of its party, maybe the most noteworthy development by the Republican Party over the past year has been what appears to be a concerted new election strategy in any close contest -- starting with the Minnesota Senate recount and now extending to the NY-20 congressional special election.
This effort appears to be two-fold. First, challenge as many Democratic votes as possible (thus lowering the Democrat's preliminary vote totals) with the singular goal of being ahead at the end of any phase so that once those challenged ballots are properly added back to the Democratic candidate's column the GOP can then argue that obviously someone stole the election since they were previously ahead. Secondly, if the first step doesn't work, demand court intervention to tie-up matter indefinitely.
Obviously, in the case of the Coleman/Franken contest, this strategy has miserably failed so far. Not only did the courts unanimously smack down Coleman's efforts, but Franken actually gained votes in each phase of the vote counting and recounting. Nevertheless, Coleman is promising further appeals and may try to find a GOP-friendly, Bush-appointed judge in the federal courts to prolong the formality of Coleman's narrow defeat.
Sadly, the same thing is going on in New York's 20th Congressional District, as James Tedisco's (R) camp has been responsible for the vast majority of ballot challenges. Their desperation has grown so significantly of late that yesterday Tedisco unbelievably challenged Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) own absentee ballot, arguing that she was in the district on Election Day and should have voted in person. Aside from the idiocy of that argument -- since New York law only requires an "expectation" that a voter might be out of the county on Election Day -- turns out that Gillibrand wasn't in the district in any event, despite the GOP's unsupported accusation. Also, the GOP has repeatedly hinted that a court challenge looms next, if they don't win the absentee ballot count.
Like Minnesota, the New York strategy appears to be nothing more than an attempt to buy some time and hope that some right-wing federal judge will hear the case and at least delay when Democrats can add another member to its Senate and House caucuses.
However, there's a much more disturbing narrative going on that the national media is too timid to highlight, and that's the growing perception that Republicans no longer believe they can win close races without the courts intervening and given the failure of the media to do its job, the GOP has concluded that there is no price to pay for doing anything they can think of to disenfranchise unfriendly voters and to game the vote-counting process ad nauseum. Also, the failure by the Democratic Party -- and maybe even President Obama -- to drop the hammer on this farce rather than wait out these insane tactics, might be adding to the media's sense that this is not worthy of exploring.
Nonetheless, with the absentee ballots now being tallied -- and not so shockingly -- Scott Murphy (D) has begun to widen his lead and appears headed to a clear but close victory as the next congressman from New York.
But it's worth keeping an eye on these pathetic new GOP tactics. In fact, the American public's extremely low opinion of the GOP might actually be a factor in the decision to go down this road and continue to be viewed as a non-serious political party. Like the junkie who will do anything to get his next fix, even if it means committing crimes to acquire cash, the depth of the GOP's desperation might be the very mechanism which provides them the willingness to do anything, no matter how far-fetched, to win at all costs -- even if that cost is looking like the biggest joke around.
I do believe we're witnessing the death of a major political party for the first time in more than 150 years.
Mark Nickolas is the Managing Editor of Political Base, and this story was from his original post, "GOP Concludes It Can't Win Close Races Without Court Intervention And Gaming Vote-Counting Process."