The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, November 30, 2006  

All Bets Are Off

Oh-so-reasonable David Broder of the Washington Post today bids a fond and misty farewell to defeated Iowa Congressman Jim Leach (R) in a piece fittingly entitled "A Veteran Moderate Moves On."

Aren't all moderates of the "veteran" sort anyway? I mean, what with everybody these days, especially the crass political parvenus and the deeply unserious bloggers, being so shrill and partisan?

So how did someone so wise and trustworthy as Leach come to so horrific a defeat? Broder -- and possibly Leach also, it's not clear -- blames online poker players:

[T]his year two special factors helped tip the balance against him. First, he became a target for crafting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which passed Congress as part of a larger bill in October and was signed into law just before the election.

The Poker Players Alliance, which had fought the measure banning banks and credit card companies from servicing Internet gambling firms, targeted Leach and other sponsors with e-mails to its members and publicity in poker magazines. A post-election survey paid for by the gambling group found a net 5-point swing against Leach attributable to that issue.

Could online gamblers really be this powerful in Iowa? A "net 5-point swing against Leach," based on 208,483 votes cast in Iowa's second congressional district, would mean more than 10,000 voters there were swayed toward the winner, Dave Loesback, by this particular issue.

That sounds highly unlikely to me. Of course, if you read carefully the last sentence of the pull quote above you will notice that the source for this alleged fact is a "post-election survey paid for by the gambling group." And they wouldn't have any interest in exaggerating their influence, would they?

Ah, the mysterious and complicated ways of Washington. Tell us more, David. Teach us some.

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