Thursday, October 14, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: SEXING UP THE ELECTION

As published in the Santa Fe New Mexican
Oct. 14, 2004

According to New Mexico election lore, miniature bottles of whiskey was always the traditional method to entice otherwise reluctant voters to the polls. But a Web site erected by a group of Harvard and Columbia University alums is trying something different to penetrate the low-turnout problem.

Votergasm.org, according to its mission statement, is "a non-partisan nonprofit campaign formed to simultaneously reverse two disturbing trends in American society: low voting rates among young people, and unacceptably low rates of youth sexual activity."

Don't panic. They're only talking about youth who are old enough to vote.

Participants are asked to sign a pledge. There are three levels.

* To be a "Citizen," one must pledge to withhold sex from non-voters for the week following the election.

* To be a "Patriot," one must pledge to have sex with a voter on election night and to withhold sex from non-voters for the next week.

* To be known as an "American Hero" one must pledge to have sex with a voter on election night and withhold sex from non-voters for the next four years.

The Web site has a section to help organize election night parties. "Make your party sexy without being sleazy," Votergasm advises.

Such parties are listed by the state. So far the response from New Mexico has been rather limp. Only one is listed in New Mexico.

Most of you probably think it's in Albuquerque, the home of all those free-love college students at the University of New Mexico who read about Votergasm last month in the Daily Lobo. Or perhaps in liberal Santa Fe.

However, the sole Votergasm election night party listed is in that Sin City on the San Juan -- Farmington.

But alas, the guy who posted on the site said he just did out of curiosity.

In an e-mail Wednesday the 19-year-old man who asked to be identified only by his first name, Cody wrote "I actually heard about it on Rush Limbaugh."

Limbaugh, who has talked about Votergasm at least three times on his national radio show and Votergasm, which has links to Limbaugh's transcripts, have each had some fun at each others' expense.

Cody, who indicated he's supporting said he posted "just to see what kind of turn out it would get and see how far people would go just for a presidential election."

He's received only one response so far -- in addition to the query from this columnist. Cody said he's not really going to have an election night party.

Rapidly responding

Most polls give John Kerry a slight edge over President Bush in last Friday's debate, while many pundits declared that debate a tie.

But there's one aspect of the debate that Bush won hands down: The rapid response battle.
While the general public is busy watching the debate, each political camp has a team of laptop warriors scurrying to find contradictions or arguments to oppose what the opponent just said.

I assume both sides have a similar operation to the Democratic "war room" I visited during the Republican Convention in New York - rows of tables where the rapid-response teams Google and Lexus/Nexus away to create instant press releases to make the other guy look bad.

Judging from my e-mail inbox, the Bush camp was twice as aggressive as Kerry's on Friday.

Counting e-mails from the time the debate started until shortly before midnight (which actually is an artificial cut-off time as the partisan debate analysis resumed early Saturday), the Republicans sent 26 e-mails compared to 12 from the Democrats.

These includes electronic correspondence from the national as well as state campaigns.

Bush's numbers might be slightly padded. For instance I got two e-mails with Bernalillo County Republican Chairman Darren White's analysis of the debate. (Surprise, surprise. Bush won according to White.)

The Kerry squad wins for the funniest heading though. While most of Bush's Most of their e-mails during the debate had the subject heading of "Breaking Debate Fact" (they were numbered, going up to 12), Kerry's e-mails were called "Bush vs. Reality."

After the debate both sides sent out favorable quotes from various commentators.

I'm writing this an hour and a half before Wednesday's third and final presidential debate. I have no doubt that my inbox will be full again tonight. Already I've received an e-mail from the Kerry folks with the subject heading "Prebuttal - What This Election is Really About."

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