Tennessee Vote-Shift May Have Flipped U.S. Senate Race

Tennessee Appears to Be Worst State for Vote-flipping in 2006

Prefatory comments by Bernie Ellis, of the Tennessee election integrity group Gathering to Save Democracy:

There were myriad problems reported throughout the state -- two counties had a complete meltdown of their new equipment, much illegal software was found on the central vote tabulator in Memphis (Harold Ford, Jr's hometown), touch-screen flipping was widespread, "lost" voter registrations were common in Democratic strongholds, etc. With all of these problems, however, I was unprepared for the following analysis received from Jonathan Simon with the Election Defense Alliance. Read and weep -- we will be forwarding this analysis on to Harold Ford, Jr. to help explain why Tennessee was the ONLY state to elect a freshman Republican Senator in 2006.


Jonathan Simon writes:

As you probably know, there was a statewide exit poll conducted by Edison-Mitofsky for the major media consortium. This exit poll was "adjusted" to conform to the statewide vote totals once they became available, the ostensible theory behind this being that the demographic picture of the electorate and its voting patterns will be most accurate if the poll results match the vote count, which is taken for gospel and therefore the best standard of calibration.

If this were indeed the case, we would expect the resulting sampled electorate as portrayed by this adjusted poll to accurately reflect the electorate that went to the polls and voted on Election Day (and early and absentee voting, which are incorporated into the exit poll via telephone survey).

There are yardsticks that enable us to check whether this is indeed the case. One is Presidential Approval Rating, which can be compared to a known baseline as established by tracking polls in the state.

In Tennessee the results are dramatic. In the most recent pre-election baseline poll of Bush approval, taken by Survey USA on October 17, 2006, Bush approval stood at 39% Approve, 59% Disapprove, for a net of minus 20%. In the Edison-Mitofsky poll adjusted to match the 2006 vote totals, Bush approval was 48% Approve, 50% Disapprove, for a net of minus 2%.

The difference between the two nets, a whopping 18%, was the greatest of any of the 32 states for which data was available. Bear in mind what this means: To get the vote to come out the way it [reportedly] did, an electorate has to be created or postulated that is grossly overpopulated with pro-Bush or Republican voters, voters with a very great propensity to vote for other Republican candidates in 2006.

There are only two ways in which such a disparity could come about.
One is if the Republicans trounced the Democrats in the turnout battle in the 2006 election, so that the poll's "roomful of Republicans" sample did accurately represent an electorate that was also a "roomful of Republicans." No one, not even Republicans, suggests that this was the case.

The only other explanation is that the vote counts, to which the exit poll was adjusted, are themselves grossly distorted and mistabulated. In Tennessee it appears that the degree of vote shifting--i.e., election theft--was in the double digits: certainly more than enough to alter the outcome of the Senatorial race, among others.

There are a few caveats:

Misreported Bush Approval?
One might argue that perhaps Bush approval was misrepresented by the Survey USA poll. To the contrary, we have found that the weighted national average (using all 50 state polls and assigning them weight according to state voting population to yield a representative nationwide result) for the October 17 poll we've used as the best available baseline was 37% Approval, which is squarely in line with other nationwide pre-election tracking polls of Bush approval.

Bush Surge?
One might then postulate that perhaps Bush approval surged by 18% or so between October 17 and Election Day (though observation tells us this is hardly likely). The Survey USA post-election tracking poll of November 16, 2006 measured a 15% net Bush Disapproval, rather than 20% on October 17. If we use this figure, the disparity decreases from 18% to 13%. If we interpolate and use the average of 17.5%, the disparity comes in at 15.5%. In either case it remains dramatic and highly probative of gross mistabulation of the vote.

Methodological Disparity?
The sole remaining possibility is that the questions in the Survey USA and Edison-Mitofsky polls were framed in a materially different way, such as to engender a methodology-based disparity. This is highly unlikely because the Presidential approval question format has become quite standardized, but we are attempting to obtain the precise wording of both questionnaires to make sure.

Tennessee turned out to be one of the most egregious examples of a national pattern, which Bruce O'Dell and I have analyzed in our paper, "Landslide Denied," posted at www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org. It is a wake-up jolt for anyone who has made the mistake of equating a Democratic victory with a fair election and a lowering of cause for concern.

The Threat Level to democracy remains RED.

All the best,

Jonathan Simon (Election Defense Alliance)