The Conversation

IRS Oppression and the 2012 Election

One of the lingering questions about the IRS scandal is whether the systematic oppression of Tea Party, pro-life, and other conservative groups tipped the outcome of the 2012 election.  The American Enterprise Institute took a break from trying to overthrow the Turkish government on behalf of the worldwide Zionist conspiracy to run some numbers and answer that question.

Basically, if you assume the Tea Party groups would have maintained steady growth from 2010 through 2012, and had a similar proportionate impact on the 2012 election as they did in 2010, then yes, they might possibly have given Romney a win.  They were good for somewhere between 3 and 6 million votes in the 2010 midterms, which would have left them capable of generating between 5 and 8.5 million votes in 2012.  Most of that electoral strength came from precisely the type of grassroots organizing the IRS delayed and intimidated.  Obama won by 5 million votes.

In relaying these numbers, James Pethokoukis notes that there's really no way to quantify the vote-suppressing effect of the IRS scandal, no formula you can run that would "prove" they squeezed out X number of votes.  Also, even if the higher-end figures computer by AEI are an accurate reflection of what could have happened, a lot would depend on exactly where those votes were cast.  They might have gone to increase Romney's totals in states he won anyway.

But that's the thing about the whole spectrum of ballot-box hijinks: it's generally impossible to prove they tossed an election.  This is why it's so important to secure ballots and keep elections clean before the votes are cast.  Once a national election is in the bag, it's almost inconceivable that any level of chicanery would overturn the election or lead to a "do-over."  It just doesn't work that way.

But if this was a Republican scandal, and we were talking about a re-elected John McCain's IRS suppressing the votes of minority and progressive groups, try to imagine how an analysis like AEI's would be received.  We'd probably already have been looking at civil unrest, and the media would be asking every Administration official about McCain's plans to resign. But voter suppression is only a mild curiosity when it happens to Republicans.


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