There’s a new study out purporting to show that Twitter mentions are just as good as polling in predicting elections. I’m skeptical, and regardless of the study’s findings, the truth is that good survey research—whether for campaigns, news organizations, or academic research—does far more than predict winners.
As the nation waited for the Wisconsin recall results to come in, Twitter began to light up with conservative claims of voter fraud. "Please @ me with any stories of #WI #WIrecall voter fraud," tweeted conservative radio host and pundit Dana Loesch around 11 a.m. She noted stories on busing voters in across state lines and on supposedly suspicious high turn-out rates. "It's not 'fraud' if you didn't cheat enough to rob voters of the lawmakers they choose," she wrote.
Every election season, before the contest begins choking news cycles, state governments try to pass laws and regulations that will help push one party or another to victory. Republicans and Democrats tweak election laws that detail who can vote, when, where and how easy it will be, all in the belief that these administrative structures can predetermine, to a certain extent, which types of voters will come to the polls and therefore which party will have an edge.
The Texas legislature just can't stop tinkering with their voting laws. Earlier this week, I detailed two new bills that are primarily designed to limit access to the polls: one requires voters to present photo identification, the other puts restrictions on who can register new voters.