The Conspiracy thwarted?

I had to scrouge back to find the Election Day Exit Polls for the ten Senate races worth watching.  The story from various partisan conspiracy theorists is that the exit polls have not correlated more or less precisely with the election outcome as of late, indicating chicanery.  Thus, Mary Mattalin is said to have told Bush early on the evening of Election day 2004 that he had lost. 

For 2006, the exit polls hew to within one percent of the results in all but two races.  To review these exit polls:


D: 52 …
R: 47 …


D: 53
R: 46


D: 57
R: 42


D: 57
R: 43


D: 52
R: 45


D: 53
R: 46


D: 50
R: 48


D: 53
R: 46


D: 48
R: 51


D: 46
R: 50

I am not going to bother to find the actual results, but the two that did not correlate within one percentage point are Virginia and Montana.  Coincidentally, or not coincidentally as the case may be, those were the two races that were decided by razor thin margins and that we left Election Day with an open question as to whether or not the results would be contested.  The losing candidates, Republicans Conrad Burns and George Allen, let the result stand, and conceded.

So the conspiracy theory, in the same vein that the results of the exit polls in 2004 were indeed the correct tally, are that these are the exit poll results here are indeed the correct tallies — which is to say, the Republican Party stole these two elections in order to keep control of the Senate, but were just not able to steal or disappear quite enough votes — the Democrat passed the five or six percent window that the genius Karl Rove, and you are entitled to your math but remember — he has “the math” – had set up.

I will say that these two races are the races I had the most emotional investment in insofar as I’m a member of Team Democrat.  And the reasons are going to seem a bit esoteric.  Montana is the Democrats’ magical gateway into the West, as everyone who gushed over Brian Schweitzer’s Gubernatorial victory knows, and a Jon Tester victory would make that belief a reality.  And Virginia is the Democrats’ great hope to chip into the “Solid Republican” South and make part of that their own, and Jim Webb was the best hope to move that forward.  My view of the map seemed a little polly-anna, maybe, but maybe doesn’t right now.

Or maybe that depends on whether you want to believe these two candidates won by 6 points or a couple thousands.  Or maybe it doesn’t.

I think a good thing to do is to review some articles from various pundits from the summer when Webb was nominated for the Senate run.  The conventional wisdom, a conventional wisdom of a sort that befuddles me not so much because it is/was wrong but because it’s meaningless in its paramoters, is that it is good that the Democrats nominated Webb because he will make Allen sweat a little and force him to exercise his campaigning skills, which will make him a better campaigner for this presidential run he’s engaging in right now.  George Will sticks out in my mind as someone who wrote that article.  It is curious, because either an opponent is strong enough that he can win or he’s too weak that he cannot win — there is no middle ground here, this imaginary middle ground where George Will and other pundits were hewing to back in the Summer.

One last note: Both Webb and Tester were grass-roots (and, I hate this term, “net roots”) backed candidates who defeated the early Democratic Party-picked options, though the Democratic Party quickly rolled behind Webb when they decided that, yes, however remote, Virginia might be won.  The candidates they defeated in the primary would have lost, which means that the Democratic Party would not have the Senate Majority right now without those two challengers.  Make of that what you will.

Leave a Reply