A couple of days ago, I posted a link to a Rolling Stone article written by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. In that article, RFK Jr presented what he considered to be evidence that the Ohio presidential vote suffered from widespread fraud, and that Kerry was robbed of the presidency as a direct result. In the comments for that thread, Jason presented a link to an article at salon.com that rebutted the RFK piece. I had some time this weekend to read the salon article and to go back and re-read the Kennedy piece. Some thoughts:
There seems to be little doubt that RFK Jr. at best misinterpreted and at worst played fast and loose with his statistics. Many, if not most, of his most sweeping allegations seem to be much, much less well supported than he made them appear. Kennedy's conclusions - particularly the conclusion that the election was stolen - should be taken with a grain of salt.
At the same time, there also does seem to be more to some of the allegations than Manjoo's Salon article indicates. One example of this can be found in the county-by-county vote totals. Manjoo rightly points out that Kennedy's focus on how Kerry did compared to "down-ticket" candidates is not supported by past history. At the same time, there do seem to be some slightly strange numbers out there. In Agulaize County, for example, 3,142 more votes were cast in 2004 than in 2000. Bush received 3,246 more votes in 2004 than in 2000. Kerry received more votes than Gore did, but fewer than the total received by Gore and Nader in 2000 (Nader was not on the ballot in 2004 in Ohio. There were more registered voters in 2004, so the percentage turnout between the elections wasn't huge - it was 69.3% in 2000, and 70.4 in 2004. For the vote count in that county to be legitimate, the Democrats would have had to have had an enormous drop in turnout while the Republicans received a massive gain, or every single new voter would have had to vote for Bush, and 104 votes would have had to flip to Bush from the 3rd party candidates in 2000. Neither scenario is impossible, and the numbers are not a smoking gun. But they strike me as highly improbable.
Do I think that Bush stole the election in Ohio? I don't think that there's enough evidence to say that for certain. I do think that there is more than enough evidence of misconduct there to make watching them closely this year a very, very good idea.