By now most of you have heard about the NRCC’s harassing robo-calls which have been inundating as many as 50 districts nationwide. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has the best explanation, so I might as well just repeat most of it here.
Most of the call’s script is a fairly standard attack robocall, a series of Republican talking points aimed at the Democratic congressional in a particular district. Nothing particularly noteworthy. The key is the introduction. The lead into the call starts with the speaker saying ‘I’m calling with information about’ Dem candidate X. Then there’s a short pause.
At this point, you know it’s an annoying robocall, so a lot of people just hang up. If you hang up then, you think it’s a call from the Democratic candidate.
Second, the repetition. And this part is the key. If you don’t listen through the whole message, the machine keeps calling you back, often well in excess of half a dozen times with the same call. It only stops if you listen all the way through.
As you can imagine, that’s driving a lot of people through the roof.
In other words, the Republicans behind the calls win either way. If you keep hanging up, you think you’re being harassed by the campaign of the local Democratic House candidate. If you give up and listen all the way through, you hear the political attack. The true source of the call, the NRCC, the GOP House campaign committee, is only revealed at the end of the call.
(Federal regulations dictate calls be identified at the top of the call.)
Third, and for this there is as yet only anecdotal evidence, many of the calls seem to be going out overnight or during, say, a major sporting event in the given district.
These sorts of operations are supposed to glide under the radar, having maximum impact with minimal press attention.
And that’s pretty much how it worked.
People only started catching on mid-late last week as Democratic campaign after campaign started fielding complaints from voters about robocalls their campaigns weren’t even making. Even then, individual campaigns dealt with it mainly on their own. Only over the weekend did different people start putting the puzzle together.
It’s impossible to say how many voters out there are pissed off because they think they’re being phone-stalked by the local Democratic candidate. And there’s no way to tell just what the effect will be at the ballot box. But the intention is clear: suppress the Democratic vote by harassing voters with repetitive phone calls and deceiving them about who it is that’s calling them.
Remember, this is the same crew that pulled a not dissimilar phone scheme in 2002 which resulted in multiple felony convictions. This time they’ve just taken it nationwide. This is their strategy.
This is a big story that’s only gotten minimal coverage in the press, when it should have generated above-the-fold headlines. The NRCC doesn’t care that this is dishonest. They don’t care that this undermines our democracy. Apparently, they don’t even care that this is illegal.
I understand why some people still vote Republican, but for the life of me I can’t understand how they can do so with pride.