November 4, 2012
Guests: Katon Dawson, Barbara Arnwine, Cornell Belcher, Peter Mansbridge,
Scot Ross, Joe Madison
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, politicians, their polls
and all that fancy dancing.
Plus, this week in voter suppression, the naming names edition.
And the defining moments of the 2012 campaign.
But first, my question, is it harder to re-elect a black president than it
was to-elect him in the first place?
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And I`m coming to you from our
studio on Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center here in New York City.
Let`s begin today by going back exactly four years, back to November 4,
2008. It`s the day when a multiracial coalition of American voters,
including those living in states that were once part of the confederacy
elected this nation`s first black president. It was historic. To
paraphrase a vice president Joe Biden sentiment, it was a big deal. Even
Obama`s opponent, John McCain had this to say about the outcome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: A century ago, President Theodore
Roosevelt`s invitation of booker t Washington to dine at the White House
was taken as an outrage in many corridors. America today is a world away
from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better
evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency
of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Senator McCain was right. That at no other time in American
history could this moment have been possible. And even as the opponent, he
was a bit swept up in that moment. Remember the front page of The New York
Times after the election, Obama; racial barrier falls in decisive victory.
Well, the victory was decisive, but the barrier had not fallen.
Then senator Obama was simply hoisted over it, propelled by decades of
civil rights demonstrations. Hard won legislative victories, educational
opportunities and shifting racial boundaries.
But senator McCain, "The New York Times" and frankly many pundits writing
in the heady moments of the victory failed to articulate how firmly the
barriers remained intact. Yes, Obama`s win was a culmination, not the
single definitive, most sought after culmination, but a culmination on the
left of racial struggles.
But it was not the initiation of a new era. As if to prove the point, the
racialized attacks on President Obama were swift and hardly subtle. The
most obvious being the unrelenting demands for the president to prove his
citizenship to a well-organized fringe of radical birthers, the election of
a black president doesn`t tell us much about the structural barriers that
continue to face the vast majority of black citizens. It doesn`t tell us
much about the narrow arena of electoral arena for black candidates. Maybe
you`ve noticed there`s not one African-American in the United States
We`re called 2008 with an open seat race. Unpopular wars, a crushing -- a
nation that was crashing in terms of the economy and exhausted with the
incumbent George W. Bush opened the door wide for a Democrat to win. But,
throughout American history, race has been a disqualifier even if
favorable, political circumstances. Not in 2008.
Overall, American voters did not use race as a disqualifying factor. And
this is meaningful if imperfect progress. In three days, we will learn if
America`s first black president will be re-elected.
The conditions are very different this time around. He is the incumbent,
the economy is still limping and it may be harder generally to win re-
election of our previous 42 presidents. Only 16 were elected to two terms.
If America doesn`t choose President Obama again, it is not an automatic
indictment of our racial progress. If he wins, we can`t smugly
congratulate ourselves on our racial progress. This is an election, not a
group therapy session.
No matter the outcome on Tuesday, when we wake on Wednesday morning, our
country will be a place where being born black is a tremendous disadvantage
compared with being born white. And on Wednesday, we still have to grapple
with how to end overt racism, structure discrimination and persistent
But, as citizens in a democracy, we can choose the future of our racial
politics, not all at once and not without struggle, but we can make new
choices. And it is worth asking what the choices we`re making this week
tell us about who we are.
At the table, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, NBC Latino contributor and fellow
LBJ school at the University of Texas, Cornell Belcher, Democratic
strategist and pollster for Obama 2012, Barbara Arnwine, president and
executive director of the lawyers committee for civil rights under the law,
and Katon Dawson, a Republican analyst and former chair of the south
Thank you all for joining me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Cornell, I want to start with a fairly recent study that
was taking a look at sort of what`s happened between 2008 and 2012 in terms
of attitudes towards African-Americans. It was reported that racial bias
has actually risen a bit over the course of the four years where Americans
are asked expressly about black attitudes. We have about 51 percent of
Americans expressing anti-black attitude, whereas in 2008, there were only
48 percent. But particularly looking at implicit measures, the things
we`re not aware of. We see about 56 percent of Americans with the anti-
black attitudes and only 49 percent in 2008. What does that tell you?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Actually, I look at that number
and think the glass is half full.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely.
BELCHER: But it also talks and hurdles any sort of minority, if you`re
running for office, you enter the conversation with stereotypical baggage
or baggage that comes along with you, same thing with women running for
office as well. And successful politicians have to be able to navigate
that and become sort of, of I call, individuated.
And I said before, a black can`t become president of the United States.
However an exceptional individual who happens to be black, he can. And I
think when you see Barack Obama, he`s become individuated in a way that say
Oprah is not black anymore. Jordan, in his height is not black anymore.
He was Jordan. He was individuated.
So, when they see the individual and they don`t see the racial baggage, I
think they have an opportunity to become president or anything they want.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And I want to be clear. We are talking about a
social constructional of race where part of what`s happened clearly over
those four years, where you see that increase in bias, I think to me, at
least part of that, Victoria, is very much about a strategy, an effort to
re-scribe the stereotypes of blackness to President Obama. The part of
what happened in `08 was he was able to as Cornell suggested there,
individuate and part of the strategy, you know, in the past four years has
been to say no, he`s part of the welfare state, you know, food stamps,
these things that are the negative stereotypes and place them on the
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and that is essential
group identity that is risen is religious one, the Muslim identity. So,
what we have been seeing over the past couple years, a new God poll just
came out. So, a bunch of researchers from different universities looking
at those implicit measures and yet, explicitly, you see a slight uptick of
negative vision and sympathy. But, what we are seeing and what is really
curious is that 70 percent of the Republicans would not vote for a Muslim.
And over 50 percent of the Republicans believe that President Obama is
SOTO: So, you see the correlation there. So, what we are seeing --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not a straight anti-black.
SOTO: It`s not.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s I think he is a foreigner and this foreigner with this
problematic identity. It moves together.
SOTO: And interestingly enough, we don`t see this effect among Democrats.
We do see a significant effect among independents. And this is what
strategically very problematic for the president. Because Americans don`t
like atheists and right after that is Muslim.
But, the silver lining, Melissa, is we`re seeing less antipathy towards
Mormonism. In 2008, we saw rather high level of anti-Mormon op-ed, but we
are starting to see that come down. So, I think there`s some good news and
HARRIS-PERRY: Barbara, let me ask you a little bit because I like
Cornell`s point. In s certain way, this is a half full story. I mean, if
we go all the way back as Senator John McCain did on election night. It
was my favorite McCain moment was his concession speech, it was big of him
to kind of encapsulate history in that way.
But you know, part of what he does, reminds us there was a time you
couldn`t be invited to the White House as an African-American without
causing a backlash. There`s a way with progress but we want to talk about
there`s room to go.
BARBARA ARNWINE, PRESIDENT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL
RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW: Absolutely. There`s at failure after the 2008
election to really analyze what happened in the vote. Because people did
not realize that in several states, especially in the south, President
Obama received less than 20 percent, less than 15 percent, about 10 percent
in some cases of the white vote. So there was always an issue. But
people, because we were looking at the nation as a whole, missed what was
going on. So, it`s a very important for us to be racially honest and very,
you know, very clear about what is happening in the public.
HARRIS-PERRY: Barbara, that`s an important point. As we think about black
voters or white voters. Which what happened in the discourse, the re-
election, sort of what will this group do and that group do. And look, as
part of media, we have perpetuated that.
But, this point about the intersection of geography strikes me as extremely
important. And Katon, you know, as a southerner, you and I are both
southerners, it does feels like there`s still a residual sort of
confederate almost narrative. Even at the same time that Louisiana and
South Carolina have nonwhite governors, right?
KATON DAWSON, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: And in South Carolina, we have one of
the two Republican black Republican Congressmen -- Tim Scott and there is
Allen West in Florida. And Tim Scott was elected out of the first district
in South Carolina where the civil war was started, ran against about eight
white candidates. So, overwhelmingly won a Republican primary and is
certainly very conservative, but a star in the Republican Party. We have
Nikki Haley, our governor.
So, outreach in the Republican Party`s hard. It is a lot of more. But if
you do, if you can get there, I think Victoria brought up the biggest
number off that I have seen and the danger for political parties --
independents. That`s the number that`s growing. That`s a number. People
are disaffected with both parties. You got the liberals on this ad, the
poll right on this side, the far right, and the independent number is
growing rapidly. And that`s what this election boiled down to about six
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I mean, I tell you as we go to break, and we will come
back and stay on this topic. But, you know, part of it is how we are
experiencing. So, some of it is the numbers is telling us. Some of is
also how we experience it. And it think some of the reasons we see the
lines for early voting is the sense is among many voters of color is that
this has been a racialized four years. And part of what they are doing is
So, stay with us. Because I know sometimes it can be hard talking about
race. So, when we come back, I`m going to try to break down. We are going
to keep on this topic. Have some tea. It will be all right.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is Democracy Plaza that you see here. And this is
where NBC 2012 election coverage will happen. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And we are coming to you from that beautiful location here at Rockefeller
Now, when a candidate crafts an election strategy, he or she looks at the
electorate and tries to create simplified mod tolls figure out how to
create a winning coalition. For candidates of color, capturing white
voters remains a challenge. And white voters are not all the same.
On the issue of the race, there`s a wide spectrum. On one of the spectrum,
you have white voters who will never, ever, ever, ever, no, never going to
cast a vote for a candidate of color. We call those naked racist voters.
Thankfully, they`re very few. And if you are a black candidate you don`t
have to worry much about convincing them because nothing you do will ever
convince them. Fine.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are white voters who are beside
themselves with joy about being able to be part of a multiracial coalition
mobilized for a candidate of color. For them it feels less like a campaign
and more like a movement. You don`t have to worry about them either,
they`re coming along.
The issue is the vast majority of white voters who fall in the other
category. Those are the folks that will likely vote for a member of their
party, they`re open to voting for a person of color, but they need to be
convinced as to why they should vote for that candidate. They made hold
racial biases, but those biases are not decisive. But the size and
enthusiasm of that group matters a lot to candidates of color.
And in 2008, President Obama was able to convince and captured 43 percent
of the white votes. This Tuesday, that group of white voters in the middle
becomes vitally important and we`ll see whether or not President Obama has
clearly convinced them why they should vote for him again.
Cornell, I want to ask you about this because we don`t know a lot about re-
electing a black executive, right? We have Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.
That is about it. We got a bunch of black mayors, and there`s political
science research saying that black mayors tend to get a higher percentage
of the vote from whites than when they run for re-election. But, the
current data look like President Obama has lost support among white voters.
BELCHER: Well, let`s understand this data. And you know this - that
number well. That 43 percent number, that`s not that different from what
any Democrat has been getting.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s better than the white Democrats who run before him.
BELCHER: You know, it was two points, two points better. So Democrats,
you know, ever since LBJ signed, he said there goes the south. He could
have really said, there goes a large swath of the white vote. So, we have
been making progress.
When I look at states like Ohio now and Wisconsin and New Hampshire and
Iowa, you know, and you look at some of those white working class voters
there, I mean, the president is ahead in those states. Not because he`s
doing poorly among whites but because of the message about economics and
about progressive economics, actually reaching those white voters. So, I
think we are actually making a lot of progress.
On the mayor side (INAUDIBLE) was a client of mine. And what you saw in
his first race was a race that was really polarized Atlanta sort f
historical, you know, it was really polarized racially. And we struggled
to get white votes. Now, he`s a darling of Atlanta. I got a feeling that
he re-elect is going to be a lot easier with white voters than once it was
SOTO: And there is the context, too. You know, looking at the study, are
we controlling for one of the greatest recessions we`ve seen in history.
So, with the mayoral race, there might be a slow economic downturn, but
it`s nothing like what we`ve seen. So, I think what`s happening is that
people maybe had implicit racial antipathies hang their hat on that because
of the economy and it becomes magnified. So, it is this interaction effect
between the economy and maybe later racial tendency.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And yet, there - it`s still feels to me, so on the
one hand, I agree that we`re in what I think is actually sort of a -- I
keep saying that the angst that we see is the death ell of at least old-
fashioned racism. And there may be new forms of racial anxiety that
emerge. But, there`s still this moment that feel like the old-fashioned
Now, even during the campaign in 2008, the New Yorker did what was meant to
be satirical cover of President Obama, then senator Obama and his wife
Michelle Obama. It was meant to be satirical, was meant to make fun of the
kind of racial biases that were out there.
But man, it hit a lot of block voters in the gut of how dare you? And I
think a lot of what we have seen in the years since then continues to make
folks feel at that way.
ARNWINE: Yes. One of the oddities about Obama`s, President Obama`s whole
first term has been all this racial branding. I mean, people have
purposefully and this is something that very few black mayors see and very
few black Congress people see where people just go after you on the basis
of race. And they are clear. That`s what they are doing, that they are
racially branding you, they got Hitler pictures of you, they got shamble
pictures of you, they are (INAUDIBLE) Congo this and sending back to this.
All of it --
HARRIS-PERRY: It is a -- it`s like a big -- like a racial shout out. - It
is a like sort of nonsensical then.
ARNWINE: And at a reverse shamble image.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right. Right.
ARNWINE: I mean, it really is powerful and I think that`s unusual.
ARNWINE: And that`s why we are in partly in this difficulty. Also, what I
worry about on this election is people saying, hey, I did the right thing
once. I`ve done my thing. I sold that I`m OK always. You know, I`m a
good person. You`ll never be able to say anything about me because I vote
once and that`s all I got to go.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And again, it`s not a therapy session. We are here
to elect a president.
ARNWINE: So, that`s one of the things I worry about for President Obama in
the sense of, you know, his being somebody of color trying to be powerful
in this position because that is a challenge to all of us. Because the
other we thing we saw is that not only did the polls show the anti-black
prejudice went up, so did anti-Hispanic prejudiced.
ARNWINE: And that is the other thing. When you have hate running loose,
you can`t contain it. It knows no boundaries.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This is one of the things, this notion of sort anti-
Muslim bias, post 9/11, old-fashioned anti-black bias and then it with some
of the restrictive immigration --
SOTO: Anti-Latino, anti-immigration.
SOTO: You know, and regrettably what we see with immigration, that
historically, when the economy is bad, who do you go after? The
immigrants. You have to channel that negative --
DAWSON: The easy target. It all the communities, it becomes an easy
target. And what I`ve seen now with elected officials is, there`s a
jealousy towards President Obama and his success. I`ve seen it in African-
Americans and the disappointment and the rhetoric and what he promised the
HARRIS-PERRY: Among black voters though.
DAWSON: Don`t get me wrong. But, that`s the rhetoric I hear that`s
different than 2008.
ARNWINE: Because he`s black, they know his hands have been tied. There`s
thing that Clinton could do that he could do. There are things other
presidents could do --
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I will also say, I think the notion of black discourse
of disappointment with President Obama is vastly overstated in the media.
DAWSON: And it`s in the family. But one of the things that I think is --
HARRIS-PERRY: I promise. We are going to come right back to it. But,
because it`s starting to warm up in here. So, stay with us because we are
going to stay on this issue. But, it`s beyond the black/white divide. We
are going to talk about pressures for a particular racial and ethnic group
in this election season.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. You are looking at Democracy Plaza. This is
where MSNBC and NBC will have our 2012 election coverage. And I`m Melissa
We are back in a conversation about race. The campaigns have been
aggressively reaching out to one group in particular, Latinos. With one of
the fastest growing populations in the United States, it`s certainly true
that the Latino vote is crucial.
What the campaigns need to realize is that the Latino vote does not
necessarily equate to one monolithic voting group.
Vicky, I want to turn to you because the Florida numbers are particularly
fascinating on this. We were looking at a recent poll from "the Miami
Herald" that looks at sort of Obama and Romney support. When you include
Cuban Americans in the counting, President Obama is leading by a slight
margin, 51 percent.
If, however, you look at it with Cuban Americans excluded from it, then all
of a sudden President Obama it leading at about 65 percent which is
obviously, an indication that within this group called Hispanics or called
Latinos, you end up with math of differences depending on things like
national origin, where you live in the country, all of that.
SOTO: Incredible amounts of diverse and I think Florida is a microcosm for
that diversity. So, down in south Florida, in the Miami area, you have a
Cuban American vote that`s very Republican regardless of the generation.
And then you go into the i-4 corridor and you see the explosion of the
Puerto Rican vote. And interestingly enough, there you have Democrats but
you also have a growing number of independents. And then, if you go even
further, you have a smattering of Mexican Americans.
So, in Florida, we are seeing, what is the trend for the future for
Latinos? It`s not Mexican Americans in Texas. It`s going to be some
Cuban-American, some Puerto Ricans, but we have to decide whether when we
are looking at the Latino community. And we have been talking about
Latinos being pandered to, they are not. There`s a lot of hot and heavy
wooing going on.
But the reason is because it works. And we know from research I`ve done
with colleagues that when you put Latino targeted messaging, that`s
culturally targeted, the process as more deeply commitably (ph) and
effectively. And even if you don`t speak Spanish, you are second, third
generation, you like the Spanish language ads because they`re culturally
relevant and they speak to you in both Republicans and Democrats have been
doing a good job of using those ads.
HARRIS-PERRY: What I`m shocked about, though, I mean, what I want to turn
to Katon, I was like where are the Republicans on this? I mean, on the one
hand, you get the Spanish language ads, but you also, I mean, there was a
time when Republicans were taking a substantial portion of the Latino vote,
particularly under George W. Bush and now, it`s though, you guys are
folding up the big tent.
DAWSON: Well, it is a problem. I mean, it`s a problem. We call it
Hispanic foreplay. We are doing it but we are not getting all the way
there yet. In fact, and the end of the day, Rick Perry in Texas had it
right. I worked for him during the primary. I looked at the anchor baby
argument. I saw the numbers inside the primary.
And to Governor Perry`s credit, he would not budge. He, Lindsey Graham,
John McCain, and George Bush are right that the future of the Republican
Party is reaching out to that group and speaking to their issues. And
that`s a large part of this, right? And we have a chance, but we continue
to miss it in our dialog and hard fought Republican primaries because it
was painful, but Governor Perry just would not bend. He lost, but he would
not bend on this issue because it was personal to him in Texas.
BELCHER: And this has to become a tipping point for you, I mean, just - I
mean, not in a partisan way. But, if you look at, so the battleground
states aren`t growing whiter.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right. That`s right.
BELCHER: And so - and when you look at where the tea party has sort of
pulled your party to the side like that, you have to think moderates and
sort of people. I think Bush really sort of going to be a guy who fights
the fight in the Republican Party. Because look, you cannot lose --
HARRIS-PERRY: The other Bush.
BELCHER: Yes. Jeb.
You can`t lose to Hispanic. You can`t have Democrats scoring 70 percent of
the Hispanic vote and be competitive. And I think in a state like Florida,
I think is encapsulates the tipping point of America because they`re going
so incredibly diverse.
And look. If we`re winning Hispanic voters by, you know, 65, 70 percent in
Florida, Florida becomes a state that`s hard for Republicans to win.
DAWSON: A presidential election will disappear, Colorado, Mexico, Texas,
Florida, Nevada. It starts -- we won`t have a chance.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, in these days, North Carolina.
DAWSON: It`s tough to have - explain. Gentlemen, we have primaries and we
better do something because we line up with Hispanic voters. I think we
do. We could argue that for hours. But our values and where we are as a
party, but we`re in tenuous territory. This election will tell us a lot
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I know. I promised. I told them had we started. We
are not even going to get to the beginning of all of this.
But, when we come back, we are going to be on something completely
different. Well, maybe not. But how many times have you heard someone say
if so-and-so wins, I`m moving to Canada. Oh, yes.
Well, we are going to live to our neighbor in the north to even see whether
or not they want us there.
HARRIS-PERRY: You hear the conversation every four years. U.S. residents
with the age-old adage, if candidate x wins, I`m moving to Canada. It is a
sentiment that`s been thrown around by Republicans and Democrats alike.
But, what exactly does Canada have that the U.S. doesn`t? Hockey? The
Canadian Rockies? Best French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds,
universal health care, subsidized education and Justin Bieber? And what do
Canadians think of feel about the empty threats of people relocating to the
great white north? We welcome my friend, CBC News chief correspondent
Peter Mansbridge from Toronto.
Nice to see you, Peter.
PETER MANSBRIDGE, CBC NEWS CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Melissa.
You see all the people behind you this morning who have been skating out on
Democracy Plaza. They`re just getting ready for the test at the border.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because it will be nice and cold up there. That`s
right. That`s all the future Canadians.
So Peter, you and I actually shared inauguration day together on the CBC.
But, I wanted, you know, it was interesting to me because it turns out that
there is sort of an anti-Canada thing occurring right now. I just want to
show you quickly Americans for prosperity, which is supporting the Romney
campaign has an ad out that takes a woman, Canadian woman named Shana
Holmes (ph) and says that we have to be careful not to become Canadian.
Look let`s take a look at this quickly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHANA HOLMES, CANADIAN RESIDENT: I started losing my vision. I lost 3/4
of my vision in my right rye and half of my vision in my left eye. And in
order to see the specialists required, it was four months for one and six
months for another. The doctor put down his pen and said your wife will be
dead by September.
I knew then that the system had become far more dangerous for patients than
I had ever realized. The American system was there for me when I needed
it. And it`s time for Americans to get engaged in this debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Peter, felt like a south park episode to me like running
against Canada. Is there something that we should know about your health
MANSBRIDGE: You should probably know something about her. If she looks
familiar to you, it is because they trotted her out in the last campaign as
well. At that time forces supporting John McCain.
You know, the conservative government in Canada has kind of debunked those
ads. So, I wouldn`t take too much into them. The debate over the Canadian
health care system is, you know, is an active one, it takes place in this
country as well, but, on that particular score, not a lot of credence on
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you this. If we decided to come, would you take
us? Would Canada be excited to have an influx of Americans?
MANSBRIDGE: We love Americans and Americans love us, you know. It`s one
of those great stories, those great love affairs that has taken place over
centuries really, the movement of the people back and forth. The
president`s sister married a Canadian here in Toronto. And he`s been up
here to see them. And that was, you know, a professional choice that was
made just like many head down to the states from here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well so, speaking of Canadian as heading down the state, as
much as we`re talking about the possibility of coming up there if one of
our candidates doesn`t win, possibly if, you know, an Obama supporter, what
you want is an influx of Canadians. There is a new BBC poll showing
Canadians who are, you know, sort of closely watching this are favoring
Obama at 66 percent and fewer than 10 percent of Canadians say that they
favor Romney. Any chance that you guys are coming south?
MANSBRIDGE: Listen, there`s the love affair for Barack Obama from this
country, as it is for many, you know, western countries still exists in
high numbers, just as it did four years ago. There was a lot of, you know,
hope and expectation around the Obama presidency. And it seems like
Canadians, as you say that figures somewhere between 65 and 70 percent, is
very high. Canadians don`t get to vote, though.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s true.
Thank you, Peter Mansbridge in Toronto. I appreciate you joining me just
to chat about the candid possibility.
MANSBRIDGE: All right, Melissa. Just make sure you have that pew teen. I
sent some for you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Bye bye, peter.
After the break, we`ll bring it back here to the U.S. and all the
politicians dancing around the polls.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mitt Romney is holding a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Let`s
take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Governor, appreciate your help.
Lieutenant governor Reynolds, thank you for your help and senator Grassley
and also Tom Latham, congressman Latham and a special shout out to the Des
Moines register. Thanks for your endorsement.
ROMNEY: And I have to admit, I always like listening to the Oak Ridge
boys. I appreciate their generosity being here this morning. Boy, thanks
to you so very much for your energetic welcome. That`s really something.
And you know, your voices with being heard all over the nation this
morning. And they`re heard loud and clear in my heart as well. And I want
to thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And special thanks to you that have been doing all the work out
there for my campaign by making calls from our victory centers, by putting
up a sign in your yard or someone else`s yard.
ROMNEY: -- by convincing a co-worker to get behind Paul Ryan and me. And
now, let`s make sure that we get everyone we know out to vote on Tuesday.
You got to get that done.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that`s governor Mitt Romney campaigning hard with just
two days to go. And a lot of what we`ve been covering recently involves
the kind of things he`s talking about right now, how to get that math to
work in his favor. Arithmetic, math, in the form of millions spent on ad
blitzes in battleground states and electoral vote prognostications and most
of all, polls.
In fact, we have a new national NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll
released just this morning, the final one of the election season, showing
President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney running about as tight as two
candidates can. The president has 48 percent of likely voters in his camp,
Governor Romney, 47 percent. And the margin of error is just over 2.5
percent. So yes, it`s close.
Now, as we break it down by state, the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll
showed that the president and governor Romney separated by only two points
in Florida, also within the margin of error. Not so much in Ohio where the
president maintained the six-point lead over Governor Romney.
If you take the averages, President Obama is up in enough swing states to
keep him in the White House -- states including Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The last three states that he is going to visit this campaign. Governor
Romney is upper the "Real Clear Politics" average in Florida, North
Carolina and Virginia by a hair.
Given that he`s trailing the president in key states like Ohio and
Wisconsin, what on earth is Romney doing expanding the map into states like
Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania in the last week? States he had all
but written off.
Joining me to break that down and whether or not it means what we think it
means, we have Victoria Defrancesco Soto, Cornell Belcher, Barbara Arnwine
and Katon Dawson.
OK. Cornell, you`re the pollster. What do the polls tell you?
BELCHER: Well, let me first say, there`s too much polling going on, quite
frankly, (INAUDIBLE). The polling has a pollster. Look. Polls are
driving a narrative in a way they should not.
BELCHER: I mean, the polls should be a part of the narrative but it should
not be the driving force in the conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Polls become in dodge news. I mean, we say he is leading
BELCHER: Right. And then, the narrative sort forms around a poll. And
that`s not way poll should work. You know, I`m a channel Sarah Palin for
many and beat up for the lame`s screen media here for, you know, their
stories out there. Go out there and talk to voters. And it`s like lazy.
We just do a poll and then we talk about the poll. Go out there and talk
to voters and let their narrative drive the story.
That said, you know, a lot of people don`t understand, there`s a science to
polling. But there`s also an art to polling. And you can have a science
right but if you`ve got the art wrong, your poll is going to be way off.
Take for example going into `08. Likely voters, a lot of the early polling
was completely off especially in the primaries because you know what, a lot
of those people who came out to vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: First timers.
BELCHER: They were first timers. They were not likely voters. But to
understand that you had something historical with a woman and African-
American, you are going to drive turnout among groups that typically don`t
turnout. That`s the art of polling.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so, actually, Victoria, we are talking about
this a little bit in the break. You were saying there`s a particular art
to voting. In this case, you know, Cornell`s point there`s an art to
polling African-American when the first African-American is at the top of
the ticket. But, there`s an art to polling Latino voters, an art that may
not be going well.
SOTO: Art and science. Because there tends to be a lot of flaws in Latino
polling and it tends to bias towards higher socioeconomic status Latinos.
Two reasons. First, Latinos tend to be overwhelming users of cell phones.
And those polls that don`t use a good mix of landline and cell phone tend
to missed Latinos who frankly are poorer.
And second, is a lot of polling that looks at Latinos uses just monolingual
English speakers. And if you pick up and say hola, they say we`re going to
call you back. And then, you get a Spanish speaking interview. But, you
lose a lot of the Spanish speakers. What you really need is the mix of
land line, cell phone, and you need bilingual callers. So you that way,
have a more accurate sample of all Latinos, rich and poor, Spanish speaking
and non-Spanish speaking.
BELCHER: And why they don`t do it, quite frankly, because it costs more.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s one thing. On this question of expanding the map, I
want to go to you Katon on this. I want to take a listen just a moment to
Rich Beeson from the Romney campaign on FOX News this morning talking about
expanding the map.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICH BEESON, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Four years ago this
weekend, President Obama was campaigning in Indiana. Today, Governor
Romney is campaigning in Pennsylvania. I don`t think campaigning in states
where we haven`t won since 1988, 1984 and 1972 are exactly acts of
desperation. It looks like the map is starting to expand drastically in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Come on. This is a head fake, right? I mean, you guys --
there aren`t some sort of new polls that we don`t know about.
DAWSON: Let me say, Rich is a friend of mine and good operative. And let
me tell you, President Obama taught us something. I mean, he went into
places he wasn`t supposed to win. He wasn`t supposed to win North
Carolina. He wasn`t supposed to win Virginia. You remember that closed
late move. North Carolina was a 14,000-vote win.
So, we have the money. We have the resources. We have some energy. And
no fault of our own, we have got a governor in Pennsylvania, a governor in
New Jersey, a governor in Virginia, I mean we won big in the 2010 change
election. So, why not see what we can do. One thing that right to happen
is 129 million people voted in the last election. That was a pretty good-
sized turn out. I`m going to predict to you that that`s coming again.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, Katon Dawson`s making prediction. And when we
come back, I`m going to talk about Nate Silver and his probabilities.
That`s up next.
Also a programming note, tonight at 7:00 Eastern, a special edition of
"Hardball with Chris Matthews" and a very special guest, vice president Joe
Biden. Matthews and Biden. That`s going to be fire.
We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re looking at Democracy Plaza. This is where NBC and
MSNBC are hosting our election 2012 coverage.
Now, we`ve been talking about polls. But I want to shift now to
probability. Probability is based on polls but utilizes a particular
methodology. And the man getting all the attention on this issue as of
late is Nate Silver of the "New York Times" 538 blog.
As of this morning, Silver methodology gives President Obama an 85.1
percent chance of receiving the majority of the Electoral College votes on
Tuesday and winning another term in office. Mitt Romney has just a 14.9
percent chance according to silver.
Those numbers are generating a lot of controversy and part of the issue is
trying to understand what Silver means when he talks about probability.
So Cornell, you said we got it talk to the people. I`m thinking yes, but
he seems to do well predicting based on the way that he manages the poll
BELCHER: Well, here is the thing about polling. We have a lot of back and
forth talk about polling. But if you look at the polls from `08, most of
the polls were within three points of the race. So, we have actually
gotten really, really good at polling. The other big thing this happened
over the years is that the wilder effect or the Bradley effect if you will,
we`ve seen that sort of disappear in a way that makes polling awfully
accurate right now. But again, if you have the art of it right, if you
could - if your model is right, I think polling is spot on.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me explain just for folks who don`t know the Bradley
or wilder effect, because maybe they were asleep in 2008. The Bradley
effect is when African-Americans candidates run, the often end up -
actually receiving about three percentage points lower than what they`re
polling. Because folks are telling pollsters oh sure, I`ll vote for that
guy, but they don`t. But that didn`t happen with President Obama,
particularly in blue states but even in the south, he got a higher
percentage than what some of the polls said.
BELCHER: Right. Be more honest the pollsters. I thank you for that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But, is there something -- when I see a Nate Silver
poll, not poll but prediction that is, setting the probabilities at 85
percent, right, and then there`s all of this sorts of discourse in the
public sector saying he`s just an Obamaite. He is driving the
conversation. But you know, we`re political scientists so, probabilities
are or just about how likely or unlikely how rare an occurrence is, if
President Obama loses it doesn`t mean that Silver was wrong, right? Rare
occurrences do sometimes happen.
It`s like Vegas. It`s gambling. Nate Silver is not going to say,
President Obama is winning. No. He`s saying, there is a chance that he
may lose but just looking at ads and looking at historical trends too, not
just picking a moment in time and looking at it. He has been looking at
the transits, he`s aggregating data, looking at all types of polls, not
just the polls, but also our polls, this is what he`s coming up with. So,
I mean, he could be wrong.
SOTO: But he has time and numbers on his side.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And there is something very powerful about that. On
the other hand, the other numbers to me that keep feeling like something we
need to take into account are the early voting lines.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, when I see folks standing in line for hours and
hour, I say there is something going on here that may not be captured by
ARNWINE: Listen, we were getting reports last night, in fact, I should say
this morning as late as 1:00 a.m. of people still in line in Florida
voting. I mean -- when I was standing in line, I stood in line 3:45 and
people in Maryland were saying I`m here to show those pollsters. I`m going
to show them they`re wrong. We`re going to be out here voting.
The other thing the polls are really wrong on so far, they`re missing new
registrants, there, missing new registrants, they are missing the turnout
among sporadic voters. Now, all of these factors are skewing in a certain
way differently than what they thought. So, there`s a lot of things wrong
with the polling. But I still think that it`s important to see how much -
you know today is soul to the polls.
ARNWINE: If people are serious, they`re ready.
ARNWINE: They are, you know, they are gearing up. They`re bringing their
church shoes and their line shoes. There`s a lot going on, you know. So,
people are really into this. And I think that we are -- I`m really mad at
the polls that are saying that the turnout from minority voters is going to
be very low or lower. What`s wrong with them?
BELCHER: Not all the polls, OK?
ARNWINE: I`m not mad at all the polls. I do want to make sure they`re
being inclusive. People of color right now are 26 percent of the American
electorate. That`s no longer a minor number.
ARNWINE: And it`s going to change, it`s going to continue to increase and
this is going to keep changing the landscape of the American political
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s a thing that, part of the art that`s not quite
picked up in it.
So, thank you to Victoria Defrancesco Soto. And the rest are back for
Coming up, it is this is this week in voter suppression. And this week, we
are naming names.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry coming to you this
morning from Democracy Plaza in Rockefeller Center, home of NBC`s decision
Thousands will gather here on election night watching the results come in.
The iconic skating rink will hold a map of the United States with states
icing over in red or blue as the race is called by the NBC desk. Red and
blue banners representing electoral votes will rise up in front of the
building as each campaign climbs to 70.
Now Nerdland, all good things must come to an end. It is our last show
before Election Day, which means it is the last time I get to break out my
graphic for -- "This Week in Voter Suppression".
OK. Our weekly voter suppression updates may be going away for now. But
we are going out with a bang. And hold on o your ballot card folks because
this one is a doozy. Today, we are naming names.
Remember the anonymous private family foundation responsible for buying
these billboards in African-American neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin?
Well, thanks to a joint investigation between Nerdland VIP Joy Reid, the
managing editor of thegrio.com and advocacy organization, One Wisconsin
Now, that anonymous buyer is anonymous no more.
Ever heard of the Einhorn Family Foundation? Yes, we hadn`t either. That
is until Joy and One Wisconsin Now Scot Ross found out that Einhorn, a
Wisconsin-based nonprofit, are responsible for the more than 85 billboards
that went up in the Milwaukee area.
The foundation has since confirmed that it paid for the billboard and --
get this -- Einhorn paid for similar billboards that appeared in Milwaukee
Now, this is where it gets really interesting. When you dig a little
deeper into the money behind the money, the investigation revealed that
Einhorn got the money for those 2010 billboards from another foundation,
called the Bradley Foundation. You probably haven`t heard of them either.
These sugar daddies have spent almost $500 million, even more than the much
reviled Koch brothers, to prop up the right wing. It`s one of the largest
sources of conservative money. And you are most certainly familiar with
the names connected to the Bradley Foundation. Wisconsin Governor Scot
Walker, Republican National Committee Reince Priebus, and a name you`ll be
seeing on your ballots on Tuesday, Republican vice presidential nominee,
According to One Wisconsin Now, all of those men contribute political
prominence at least in part to this man, Mike Grebe, a conservative king
maker of sorts in Wisconsin. He`s also the president and CEO of the
Bradley Foundation. It is a tangled web connecting voter suppression, dark
money and the highest levels of the Republican political power
Joining me now from Madison, Wisconsin, to help us sort it all out one of
the people who connected all those dots, One Wisconsin Now`s Scot Ross.
Nice to see you, Scot.
SCOT ROSS, ONE WISCONSIN NOW: Hello, Melissa. How are you this morning?
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m great.
Tell me, Scot, just -- I tried to lay it out there a little bit. But tell
me, who is Einhorn and who is the Bradley Foundation?
ROSS: Well, Einhorn is just, you know, a local family foundation run by a
hedge fund manager out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bradley Foundation, I
mean, that`s the -- they`re the granddaddies of them all as they say.
Bradley, as you mentioned, has financed probably close to half a billion
dollars since 2000 in terms of funding the right wing infrastructure, the
junk science. They`ve now got into funding organizations that are trying
to repress the right to vote. And it is massive.
And as you`ve said, the guy behind it, Michael Grebe, is a king maker. I
mean, he`s connected to Scot Walker as his campaign co-chair. He`s
connected to Paul Ryan, who Paul Ryan called Mike Grebe, his political
ROSS: And, Reince Priebus, you know? I mean, Reince Priebus, Mike Grebe
sent out a letter to all the Republicans when Reince Priebus was fighting
to be the RNC chair, saying this is my guy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Scot, I -- you know, we have on this show, we have said, I
don`t believe in conspiracy theories. You always want to have the simplest
explanation for everything.
And yet, when you look at this map, if you were to put this king maker,
Grebe, at the center of a map and play that map out, the money badger map,
it is pretty extraordinary in terms of those connections. And they are not
just sort of casual connections. It`s not I saw a picture with them or
they were at a dinner party together at one point. What we`re seeing here
is the Bradley Foundation and Michael Grebe as a real sort of force behind
Is that correct?
ROSS: Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt.
And now that they`ve moved into again funding these organizations designed
to suppress the vote, we like to think that our investigation delivered a
real roundhouse to the white sheets of voter suppression and knocked off
that cowardly veil of anonymity. I mean, people need to know this is going
What I think is great is that because people have been mobilized about what
is going on with voter suppression, we believe that the polls are going to
be -- you know, the polls will be open and our elections are going to be
fair, transparent and clean and that the people are ready to make sure this
doesn`t happen at the polling places, so people will be able to exercise
that sacred right to vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think folks who put up these billboards would say they`re
trying to make the process fair and transparent and open, right? They`re
saying they`re public education billboards.
ROSS: Absolutely not. They provide no information about voting
whatsoever. They`re simply designed to try and make people confused about
the polling process, to intimidate them about their status. And what we
found is, you know, it is that sort of confusion that can lead people to
decide not to vote.
And so, their billboard campaign, their previously anonymous campaign, was
designed again to cause that confusion and that intimidation to keep them
from exercising the franchise.
HARRIS-PERRY: Scot, I want to bring in Barbara Arnwine. Her work at the
Lawyers Committee has been fundamentally around these issues of voter
Does it make a difference for you, Barbara, when you have this kind of
mapping, when you can know who the names and the families and the
foundations are, or does it make little difference to you as you`re
actually doing that kind of work?
ARNWINE: It makes a lot of difference, because remember, what these
billboards did, was that they stigmatized these African-American and Latino
communities by implying that they were the source of voter fraud when there
was, in fact, no evidence of voter fraud at all, voter impersonation and
Plus, it created all this confusion. People thought that, what in the
world is voter fraud? Am I going to be arrested when I made a real simple
mistake like I`m at the wrong precinct?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Which can happen all the time.
ARNWINE: And people were saying, you know, what if I`m an ex-felon. Does
that mean felony, you know -- I mean it caused so much confusion.
ARNWINE: So I think what`s important for us, we know it`s Einhorn, we also
know he is a big funder of the Tea Party, the FreedomWorks. We know then
it makes us realize how much money -- if they`re funneling money like this
into billboards, what do you think it will look like for these poll
vigilantes who are going to be at the polls contesting and challenging
voters. So, it makes us realize how we have heightened our anti-voter
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, how much work there.
HARRIS-PERRY: If you hold for me one moment, because President Obama is on
stage at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire. He`s campaigning
together with former President Bill Clinton. Let`s take a moment and
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day, I`m on the phone
with our FEMA directors, the governors and the mayors and making sure that
we`re doing everything we can.
And I think I speak for the entire country when I say we will not stop
until those folks whose lives have been upended that their lives have been
rebuilt. We will be with them every step of the way. I don`t speak just
as the president. I speak for every single American. We`re going to help
We will help them rebuild. That`s what we do as Americans.
And that`s the interesting thing is, despite the heartbreak. We`ve also
been inspired these past few days. We see our first responders, our police
officers, our firefighters, EMS folks, running into building, wading
through water, helping their fellow citizens. We see neighbors helping
neighbors cope with tragedy, leaders of different parties working to fix
A spirit that says, no matter how bad a storm is, no matter how tough the
times are, we`re all in this together. We rise or fall as one nation and
as one people.
That spirit, New Hampshire, has guided this country along its improbable
journey for more than two centuries. It`s that spirit that carried us
through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.
In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis
since the Great Depression. Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5
million new jobs. The American auto industry is back on top.
Home values are on the rise. We`re less dependent on foreign oil than at
any time in 20 years.
Because the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, a
whole lot from here in New Hampshire, the war in Iraq is over. The war in
Afghanistan is coming to a close. Al Qaeda is on the run. Osama bin Laden
is dead. We`ve made real progress.
(END LIVE FEED)
HARRIS-PERRY: That is President Obama campaigning today, along with former
President Bill Clinton in New Hampshire.
Let me bring my panel back in for a moment. Joining us is Karen Finney,
MSNBC political analyst, columnist for "The Hill" and former DNC
communications director. She`s joining us along with the rest of our panel
from earlier -- Katon Dawson, Barbara Arnwine and Cornell Belcher. And
also from Wisconsin still, Scot Ross.
But let`s just take one moment to respond to President Obama there,
obviously talking about Sandy and his response there, and kind of laying
out his big domestic accomplishment a bit.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But also talking about -- when the
president talks about an America for everybody, that is a vision that a lot
of different parts of this country can see themselves in -- women,
veterans, African-American, immigrant, Latino, Asian, you name it.
And I think that`s part of the strength of his message. The thing that`s
been so beautiful to me is that as tragic as Sandy was, it`s meant that the
president has come back to an essential thing -- not just his campaign, not
just of his presidency but of his life`s work which is we`re in this
together, how do we make sure everybody`s got an opportunity.
I went back and I read something when he was state senator and he was
saying, everybody has got to have a fair shot. I thought wow. So, he came
up with that himself.
FINNEY: But the point being, we`re able to come back to that message and I
think that`s so important.
I also think it is part of what -- if you`re one of those voters who have
not yet made up your mind and you`re hearing that, you`ve got to be
thinking, you know what? Yes, that`s what I want. I want that optimistic
future. I want that country where everybody has got a chance.
And again this idea that we come together and we help each other when we
need help. Government is not evil.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right. I agree. There`s something about sort of how
the disaster can refocus us on what our collective responsibilities are. I
also worry a little bit that Sandy ends up being the voter suppressive
effort all by itself, just that Sandy may create some complications for
folks in terms of voting.
We`re going to stay on the issue of "This Week in Voter Suppression".
We`re going to go back to Wisconsin. We`re going to bring the whole table
in as soon as we get back.
And I want everyone to stick around, because when we come back, I`m going
to focus on the latest suppression efforts in Ohio and the person who
really is just driving me crazy this election cycle -- when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re looking at Democracy Plaza, the site of NBC News`s
2012 election coverage.
We are talking about the election in a very particular way this morning.
Our final "This Week in Voter Suppression" before the election on Tuesday.
And we`re pulling cards and naming names today.
Now, this next person has had his wig snatched so many times right here in
Nerdland that he ought to be bald by now. We`re going to find a few more
hairs to pluck because Nerdland, yes, yes, yes, your favorite voter
suppresser, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is at it again.
In an 11th hour voter suppression Hail Mary, he changed the rules again to
make it harder for Ohioans to vote. On Friday, just four days before the
election, Husted issued a last minute directive that could result in
provisional ballots going uncounted in the election`s most highly contested
The directive makes voters who submit a provisional ballot responsible for
correctly writing out an affirmation document, the form of ID that they`ve
provided to election officials. If a voter makes a mistake, their entire
ballot gets thrown out. Ain`t that some ish.
All right. I`m a little -- I`m really -- he is on my last nerve.
HARRIS-PERRY: It should not be that on the Sunday before the election,
that there is actual new breaking news in "This Week in Voter Suppression".
FINNEY: It`s disgusting. Also on the last Sunday before the election
where he said it was impossible to have early voting. Right?
I mean, this guy -- every single reasonable idea, every single reasonable
request, he`s got some reason why and he`s got a Boy Scout-looking face.
Gee, I don`t know what to do to make it easier. I mean, it`s insane.
BELCHER: Well, it shouldn`t be a partisan issue. I mean, look, as
Americans, we should be making it easier for everyone to vote, not making
it harder. It shouldn`t be Republican or Democratic issue. In America,
people and fought for the right to vote. Don`t make it difficult. We
should all make it easier.
FINNEY: But, you know, Cornell, can I just say? I think part of the
problem as Democrats, one of the things we need to try to do after this
election is reframe the whole conversation, because we took the bait on
voter ID. It`s not about ID, it`s about protecting the right to vote.
We need to stay focused on the Constitution and the right, and then how do
we make that happen instead of, you know, the shiny object of ID laws or
the shiny object of all these barriers that the Republicans are so good at
throwing in our way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Scot, I want to go to you in Wisconsin on this point,
because it does feel to me like part of what`s happened in your uncovering
of the Bradley Foundation here is that you`re demonstrating there`s a think
tank behind this. So Karen is making the point we can`t just take the bait
on sort of one small issue. We have to think big.
What is -- what kind of response do -- again, not in a nonpartisan way --
people who care about making voting easy and more accessible -- how do you
respond pack to this much organization and money?
ROSS: Well, I mean, one of the things that we`re doing and I can say it
here. We have a new Web site that we just launched, BradleyWatch.org,
where we`re going to do a continuing accountability project on the money
badger, Mike Grebe, and his organization that is funding these voter
And I want to point out, like again, this is a Republican effort. We know
that tonight in Milwaukee, there is a big, giant Republican gathering going
on. And at the same event, True the Vote will be doing some sort of poll
watching training, you know?
So this is all -- you know, this is tied to one side. It is an attempt to
suppress the vote.
The good news is, again, we`re going to stop this. People are mobilized
ready to know ha their rights to vote are. People are in place with you
know, 866-OUR-VOTE if people have problems.
And again, I think that, you know, transparency illuminates the pathway to
accountability. And so, we`re going to do that with BradleyWatch.org and
call these people out.
I congratulate you for doing the same on our show.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to get a t-shirt that says that, Scot. I love
that. One of the things, Barbara, I want to turn to you a little bit on
this, because sometimes suppressive efforts are not as clear as we`ve seen
with the voter ID. So we know that in Florida the lines have been
In Miami-Dade last night, early voting did not end until 1:00 in the
morning. So I have in my hand the Miami-Dade County election`s department
official sample ballot. And you really, like this thing -- this isn`t four
or five of them. This is the ballot.
And you and I were looking at it on the break. I have a PhD and I find
this difficult to manage. No wonder the lines are that long. Even a
ballot like this is suppressive.
ARNWINE: Absolutely. What we have been trying to do as the state budget
cuts that happened, what the states have been doing instead of increasing
the funding to make sure the voters can participate in an electorate.
They`ve been cutting back on just these things. Mailing a sample ballot
out to every voter, making sure people have assets to, you know, know more
information about these initiatives, et cetera -- none of that. I mean,
there`s been less.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. You get -- this is the first time you`ve seen them.
ARNWINE: Seen ever, and had no idea it`s going to look like this. So,
it`s very, very important for voters, we keep telling voters that they got
to be VIPs, you`ll verify your registration, your identification, be at the
correct polling place. But also, it`s really important for voters just to
take a few more steps.
I mean, I could not be more prouder of the American voter than I`ve ever
been this year --
ARNWINE: -- because people have been standing in line seven hours they
ARNWINE: I am so angry at the voter officials, elected officials who have
not processed registrations yet.
ARNWINE: And we are in the process of looking, do we have (INAUDIBLE)
ARNWINE: I mean, these are the kind of things that`s real. I mean, we
have so much going on. I`m glad people are calling that 1-866-OUR-VOTE
hotline because we`ve had over 30,000-plus calls. People are telling us
about problems. We`ve been able to go into those jurisdictions and clean
ARNWINE: Do what has to be done. But also in light of Sandy, this --
Sandy teaches us two things. One is that we got to -- early voting is
ARNWINE: If New Jersey and New York had had early voting, what a
difference this would be.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s no possibility New York is going red, is it?
ARNWINE: Also, it teaches us what the reforms are that are still needed.
But it also teaches us that when we are in a crisis, we find ways to do
things we couldn`t do normally. So, all of a sudden, you can e-mail vote
if you`re a displaced person in New Jersey. Hello?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, exactly. The technology is --
HARRIS-PERRY: Katon, I promise I`m going to let you in.
But I do have to let Scot go in Wisconsin and take a commercial break.
But, Scott, thank you so much not only for joining us today but, Scot,
thank you for the kind of real reporting that you have done to connect
these dots. I greatly, greatly appreciate it.
ROSS: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is game day. It is a coming for the poll watching groups
like True the Vote. We think there might be an agenda a little different.
HARRIS-PERRY: The last name we want to leave you with today is Catherine
Engelbrecht, and her Tea Party-affiliated True the Vote.
Now, we`ve told you before about True the Vote, and their plan to dispatch
1 million observers to watch the polls on Election Day.
So, we dispatched one nerd from Nerdland to True the Vote to get a little
training. And we`re pretty convinced that the real intention of True the
Vote or at least one of them is not just to create chaos, but to actually
tie up the election in the courts.
So our nerd came back from True the Vote training and these are just some
of the images that were part of True the Vote training. This one is the
one that just drives me nuts.
You see the challenger, the True the Voter looks like she`s probably ethnic
or African-American. She`s challenging a man in a dress, right, who is
apparently someone who is this with the wrong identity. It`s kind of like
transphobia and racial angst all together, you know, in one big piece.
But what they`re told in the training is to watch the voters present proper
ID, check address and ID against the poll book. Does the voter still live
at the address?
Now, remember, these are not election officials, right? This is a nerd
from Nerdland who`s been trained to do this.
And then you get the common sense tips. Use that number to determine
average. Check the vote again. If the number is too high, ask the
supervisor what happened.
So, again, our nerd came back saying, I think what`s happening here is
they`re trying to build a case. Tens of thousands of challenges all around
the country and then you can say, you know, here in Ohio, we had 20,000.
Here in Florida, we had 50,000.
Is this the way the Republicans are going to try to win this election,
DAWSON: I don`t think so.
I think there`s several things. The graphic artist wasn`t very good, start
with that. That`s the first person to fire.
Did they break any laws is the first question. Were any laws broken on
those regulations? I don`t think so.
HARRIS-PERRY: The True the Vote break the laws.
DAWSON: Did they have the right do it and organize? Yes. Both sides are
doing it. Is this going to be a contested election? We watch.
HARRIS-PERRY: Both sides aren`t doing this.
ARNWINE: There`s another element to this, is that they`re being poorly
trained. You see, one of the contests that we have to deal with was where
they were actually going into one community where Somalians, naturalized
Somalians voting and telling them they couldn`t vote because they didn`t
speak proper English and not knowing that the courts under the Voting
Rights Act, you got section 203. That`s the bilingual provisions.
And you have to stop that. Even their own people are embarrassed because
they`re poorly training and they`re mis-training them purposely I think and
telling them that some states the voter ID is required like it`s not like
in Wisconsin. So, there have been problems.
So, I don`t think it`s about good regulations, a lot of it is where they`re
actually being misled so that they will challenge people wrongfully and
they will just cause massive confusion at the polls.
So, it`s very, very important for voters to not take it. Voters need to be
with a stand their ground during these elections. I`m really serious.
Stand your ground. Insist on your right to vote, a regular ballot, to
allow people --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, particularly if Ohio is going to throw out the
FINNEY: You know, Katon, I mean, here`s the problem I have with this. I
mean, the hypocrisy of saying -- you`re right, technically, is it against
the law to stand there and intimidate somebody? No. Maybe they don`t even
see it as intimidation.
But we`re telling you that people are being intimidated by this, and
they`re exercising their rights. And what bothers me in this conversation
is that too often, Republicans are so wanting to manipulate the
conversation and err on the side of, you know, let`s make sure there`s no
wrongdoing when you can buy a gun on the Internet without an ID and then we
have to protect the rights of the individual.
FINNEY: And, you know, part of what we saw historically, let`s rather how
we got here. Once it became untenable for people to see their heads beat
in on television in the `50s and `60s just trying to vote, then all of a
sudden, people said we have to change your tactics. Now, we`re going to
talk about integrity. We`re going to protect the integrity.
And the problem is, it`s not a conversation about how you make sure every
single American has the opportunity to vote and cast their ballot and have
that ballot counted. That`s where we should all come together as Cornell
said. That shouldn`t be partisan. That shouldn`t be about we`re going to
have our vote checkers here and we`re going to make sure that you did this,
that or the other. And then we`re going to prepare our case so that we can
challenge it the next day.
I mean, it`s true insanity --
FINNEY: -- that we have people fighting for our country in foreign lands
and we can`t get this right here? It`s crazy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. It feels like it`s at the core of the process.
Whatever the polls say, right, you pick up the phone, you answer the poll.
But if to go to stand and vote, you are facing intimidation, that feels to
me sort of fundamentally outside the American process.
BELCHER: And strategically, it`s not a path to victory long-term, I`m
going to beat up the party a little bit, because you can`t suppress your
way to victory long-term here. At some point, the Republicans are going to
have to put their ideals out there and they`re going to have to compete for
black and brown voters more efficiently, because this is not the way to win
HARRIS-PERRY: Actually, our next segment is going to talk about whether or
not there are particular ways to target some of these groups like black and
brown voters, right on their radio. You know, we do a lot of --
HARRIS-PERRY: But before we go, I just want to say this. We in Nerdland
sincerely hope that we are not going to need to bring back "This Week in
Voter Suppression" as a segment after the election. But I promise you
this, we will stay on the issue and if there are those out there trying to
suppress your rights, we will report on it.
But I do want to make a special mention of one of our own nerds. Tracy
Curry (ph) has been the producer week in and week out, putting together
almost every voter suppression segment we have done on this show. Tracy
has been on top of every aspect of this story. Sometimes producers don`t
get the credit that they deserve.
And today is Tracy`s birthday. Feel free, #Tracyhappybirthday. Nerdland,
send her some love because she`s been doing hard work on "This Week in
And up next, we`re going to talk about radio.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And this is Democracy Plaza here
in Rockefeller Center where the 2012 election results will come in for NBC
News. There are going to be thousands of folks out there. You got to join
This week, the number of television ads aired in the presidential campaign
topped 1 million. That`s up nearly 40 percent from 2008. And so far,
Obama for America has outspent the Romney campaign by more than two to one.
That`s just on the TV. But there`s another airwave raging. And that`s the
radio airwaves. Radio ads may be particularly influential in these last
days of the 2012 presidential campaign because they have the ability to
micro target voters at a relatively low cost.
And for those who haven`t turned on the barrage of TV ads, radio can
sometimes subtlety penetrate a captive audience.
Joining my panel from Washington, D.C., is the acclaimed talk radio host
Joe Madison, also known as the Black Eagle who can be heard every weekday
morning coast to coast on Sirius XM satellite radio.
Thanks for joining me, Joe.
JOE MADISON, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: Thank you for the acclaim and --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Joe, I want to play an ad for you, a radio ad for you,
because I had this claim that radio is a little bit freer space. People
can say things on radio that they wouldn`t necessarily say on television.
So, I want to listen to this ad because it`s called "black men vote".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: They think he`s dumb, lazy and the best food stamp president
ever. It`s disrespect. It`s not right.
And if they think these things about President Obama, "Can you imagine how
dumb this president is?" What do they think about you?
Black men -- it`s time to stand up for ourselves. Vote for President Obama
today. Black men -- this entire election might come down to Ohio. Women
are already voting in high numbers. We need do our part.
Vote for President Obama today. If you don`t vote, Mitt Romney may win and
we will have to hear more comments like this.
ROMNEY: No one`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that
this is the place that we were born and raised.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, that is not an OFA radio ad. That is not OFA ad. But
the very fact that that ad is targeting black men, that is talking
specifically about this kind of racialized analysis of the president, that
it even talks about the women are out there voting, so we got to go.
I just like that -- if that were on television, I think people would have
strong emotions about it. But on radio, you get your listeners.
MADISON: You`re absolutely right. Again, television is multidimensional.
People might say, I don`t like the complexion of the men they use, look at
this or that or the city. Where is that?
The one thing about radio that`s true and always has been, it is theater of
the mind. I deliberately sat and listened and concentrated. My mind just
immediately, I created my own images. I created my images of Romney. I
created my images of black men going out and voting and responding to this.
And the other thing is, it`s a drumbeat. Look, Tom Joyner, Joe Madison,
Steve Harvey, Al Sharpton, you know, you name it -- the group of us, Bev
Smith. It`s not that we talk every day. It`s that we have similar
experiences and we really have been the drumbeat.
If we`re not -- I`m being very honest. I think that black talk radio in
particular has driven this vote early campaign --
MADISON: -- because it`s been a constant and I`ll use the term, a constant
drumbeat that no matter where you turn, that`s what you`re hearing and
that`s what`s driven this, and to the point that the Obama administration
has used it effectively.
You know, it`s interesting. You don`t find, Melissa, you know, you don`t
hear drug commercials on radio. You know why?
MADISON: Because at the end, it`s required. You have to tell-all the
things that drugs will do to you. So you can`t do that on radio. If you
have a drug commercial and it says you have asthma, you`ll die of this and
that, it has an entirely different impact.
So I think that it has been very effective and the Obama administration has
done something that the Romney people have not done and that is to use
radio, particularly black talk radio, as a way to make dents into our
community and next time around, the Republicans better learn the lesson.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting. You know, what you`re saying there -- you
know, I`m a big radio listener in the morning because I drive my daughter
to school and home and I get a fair bit of -- I listen to a lot of local,
you know, urban radio.
There`s something about that sense of connection, like with television, I
feel like that`s some person out there who doesn`t know anything about me.
When it`s your local radio host who`s talking about your street corner and
the things going on in your community and then says, go out and vote early,
that feels like it has sort of a relevance, like your neighbor knocking on
MADISON: You`re absolutely right. Particularly now someone who has a
national morning and I`m going to have to get you a Sirius XM Radio to
listen to. The point is, you`re right, you know the person. You think you
know the person.
Radio is very intimate.
MADISON: It is and always has been. I can`t tell you how many people
think they know me, think they know that local personality. And you belong
MADISON: You belong to them.
MADISON: I mean, I don`t care -- you belong to them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I was going to say, I got to let you go, Joe. But I am
personally as a New Orleans resident mourning the loss of DJ Chicken and
Big Abe in the morning.
MADISON: There you go.
HARRIS-PERRY: It makes me -- I can barely wake up.
So, thank you to Joe Madison in Washington. Up next, the single most
defining moment of the entire campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I actually did vote for the $87
billion before I voted against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: If there was a defining moment in the 2004 presidential
election that was the defining moment, that was it. And it was played over
and over again by Republican President George Bush to great success,
rendering his challenger Democratic Senator John Kerry, a flip-flopper.
Now, there have been a ton of influential moments from the 2012 campaign,
but I want to go to my panel and get from each one here after this long
campaign season what do each of you think of as a defining moment.
Katon, what`s your pick?
DAWSON: Certainly, it was the first debate where the president was asleep
and Romney drew an articulate message of what he would do as president,
became presidential. He`s a good, honest man. He`s going to be the next
president of the United States, and you can all just --
DAWSON: But --
HARRIS-PERRY: If he is, that will be a moment to --
DAWSON: And I think the president did what he was told to do. He has a
likability number that he has to be very careful with. He does. People
like the president. It`s his policies that are out there the last four
years, and we`ve argued that over weeks and weeks and weeks. But that was
the breakout moment.
It was supposed to be at the Republican National Convention. It happened
at that debate. People got to see Mitt Romney. They could envision him as
a president. They found out he was a pretty decent guy and both of them
That`s when the tide changed and that`s made the race competitive and we`re
here today in neck and neck race.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s no doubt it was a defining moment. But let`s hope
it just kind of defined it and everyone moved on.
DAWSON: You`re thinking there with me.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Barbara, what was your defining moment of the
ARNWINE: You know, after one year of fighting over and over and over
trying to get people to focus on voter suppression as a legitimate problem
in this country, it was wonderful to see at the DNC, when elected officials
and everybody, all the activists, all the delegates, everybody was talking
about voter suppression for the first time, you know, as a really heavy
And that`s when it really took root.
HARRIS-PERRY: No one more effectively than John Lewis. Let`s take a quick
listen to John Lewis talking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I`ve seen this before. I lived this before.
Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make this possible for
every person to exercise their right to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It was a pretty powerful moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: And for you, that was the thing that -- that`s why we have
the lines and that`s why people are out there.
ARNWINE: You know, in 2008, we couldn`t get people to listen. 2000, 2004,
2008, we kept saying voter suppression is on the rise. It`s a real
problem. It`s getting worse and worse. State officials are getting in the
game, legislatures, there`s a real problem.
ARNWINE: Nobody would listen. The real change this election is that
finally people are acknowledging that there`s a real reality to voter
ARNWINE: And I think it will help us not to -- when I say us shall the
Election Protection coalition, all the civil rights group, everybody who
cares about the American democracy.
ARNWINE: It will help us for election reform going forward. It`s going to
help all of us to stop these bad tactics, to pass new laws that will make
it better for people to vote and it also -- what I`m really proud of,
again, is the American voter who is going out there and saying, I won`t
ARNWINE: Because -- it`s backfired, totally.
HARRIS-PERRY: It may be more than a defining moment of the campaign. It
may ultimately be a defining moment in our democratic process.
ARNWINE: No doubt about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: It would pretty incredible.
Cornell, what was your defining moment?
BELCHER: My defining moment was really the ad that they put out about
welfare, sort of the lie that the president was going to gut welfare.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just in case folks don`t remember, let`s take a listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare
reform by dropping work requirement. Under Obama`s plan you wouldn`t have
to work and wouldn`t have to train for a job. They just get sent your
check. And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELCHER: The problem with this is -- look, we`ve had sort of campaigns
sort of be misleading in the past. But the level of this outright lie, I
think, in modern politics is unprecedented.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s just a lie.
BELCHER: I mean, understand how diabolical this lie is, because this is a
lie meant to empower and give voice to racial polarization. I mean, it`s
trying to inject race into the conversation.
So you were telling a lie to inject race. To me, that`s diabolical. And
to me, it was really sort of a defining moment in the campaign where you
really saw to what extent these people will try to win at any cost.
HARRIS-PERRY: Karen, what`s your defining moment?
FINNEY: My defining moment actually came long before the campaign started.
It was the "Let Detroit go bankrupt" op-ed, which I know he didn`t write
the title. I will say that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, no one ever writes their title.
FINNEY: No, no, but the content was bad.
And I will tell you a couple of things. Number one, bad ideas, bad policy.
Totally incongruous of what was actually happening at the time in terms of
what was realistic.
But more importantly, what it taught us about Mitt Romney`s character
throughout this cycle. He`s a coward.
FINNEY: He tried to take the position -- yes. I`ll tell you why. He
tried to take a position and say, you know, this is this like tough love.
This is what`s going to happen.
But then when he realized that it was a liability and that he wasn`t going
to get through a primary and he wasn`t going to get through a general
election, he started backing away from that to the point that now, he`s
flat-out lying. I mean, you have the head of two major car companies come
out and say, that these ads that he`s been running, the Jeep ads that he`s
been running in Ohio, are flat-out lies.
So, to me that said a lot about his character and his craven desire to win
and it`s a narrative. Frankly, we`ve seen it over and over again in this
election cycle where he`s taking one position and now he`s taken another
position. Now, he`s back to this position. And he won`t even have the
courage to standby the original --
HARRIS-PERRY: And say, this is where I was on it.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, how these moments define him. But, certainly,
again, if Mr. Romney ends up president, I think that debate moment, people
will trace back to that. If he loses Ohio and therefore loses -- likely
loses the Electoral College, I think that Detroit one is very likely to be
For me, I have to say, it was the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable
Healthcare Act in the 5-4 decision. Had that it not been upheld, I just
felt like, you know, the president`s signature domestic achievement.
So, that was fun. We want you to go to our Facebook page or tweet to us
what you think were the defining moments of the campaign.
And up next, the most important reason for voting.
HARRIS-PERRY: I appreciate that social media allows us to be part of
communities even when we don`t meet one another face to face.
One of my favorite communities appeared on Twitter in recent weeks. It`s
And people are showing up to do civic philosophizing about their own
participatory motives. Here are some of my favorites.
Karen writes, "I vote because people are still willing to risk everything
to be an American. It is important."
Charley tweets, "I vote to spite #GOP efforts to keep people like me from
the polls. It`s my country, too."
Dawn remembers, "Because too many people fought too hard for me to have a
voice, for me not to use it."
And Kathleen thinks about the future. "I vote so my children will learn
that every person has a voice and every voice matters."
The always insightful Tavia tweets, "Because I grew up under an autocratic
regime and can`t take democracy for granted."
And I cracked up to read DJ Big Styles writing that he votes because, "I
only look illegal. That`s #whyivote."
Peter returns to the founding documents for his reason, "Because it is
supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people,"
which got me to thinking about we the people and the reason I vote. I vote
because it took so long for many of us to be included in "we the people".
We the people who tilled the soil and cleared the forest and harvested the
crops for no compensation. We the people who endured the horror of
redemption after reconstruction and carried the weight of Jim Crowe. We
the people who swung from southern trees and stood on the front line of
We the people who taught our children to read even when the schools had no
books. We the people who worshipped a God of liberation even as we
suffered oppression. We the people who gave America back its highest
ideals with our nonviolent struggle against injustice.
We the people are Americans and we prove it by voting. That`s #whyivote.
And that is our show for today. Thank you to Karen Finney, Cornell
Belcher, Barbara Arnwine and Katon Dawson.
Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you again next Saturday at
But before that, I`m going to Chicago. See you there on MSNBC on election
evening. All part of the night-long MSNBC 2012 election coverage. And
I`ll be reporting from Obama headquarters in McCormick Place Convention
Center. Be sure to watch Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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