CS Monitor Writer Dismisses 'Operation Chaos' Based on Outdated Data

April 2nd, 2008 9:59 AM

I have to give the Christian Science Monitor credit for at least discussing Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos which is his plan for Republicans to register as Democrats in order to vote for Hillary Clinton so as to cause yet more disorder in the Democrat party. One can search in vain in Google News for dreaded term "Operation Chaos," but with the exception of the Christian Science Monitor, the mainstream media shuns any mention of it despite the fact that registrations of Democrats in Pennsyvania are at record levels due to "mysterious reasons." Often when reading or watching media outlets describe the record number of Democrat registrations in the Keystone State without giving credit to Operation Chaos, I feel like channeling the late great comedian, Sam Kinison, who was famous for yelling: "Say it! SAY IT!!!"

Christian Science Monitor writer, Dante Chinni, finally said it in his article, "Rushing to register? Limbaugh’s efforts not yet showing signs of big effects in Pennsylvania." First Chinni discusses that which most others in the mainstream media refuse to even mention:

Under a plan he calls “Operation Chaos,” Mr. Limbaugh urges his listeners to vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the purpose of dragging on the Democratic Party’s primary season as long as possible. The hope, of course, is a drawn-out process that splits the Democrats.

How successful has Limbaugh been? It depends who you ask. The radio dial’s best-known right-winger says his army of “dittoheads” is responsible for Mrs. Clinton winning the primary in Texas, as well as padding her margin in Ohio.

If you poke through the comments on this site, you’ll see more than a few claim that Limbaugh’s efforts also did things like lower Sen. Barack Obama’s margin of victory in the Mississippi primary.

Now Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary is in Limbaugh’s sights, say some Democratic voters, many of whom are supporters of Mr. Obama. They point to news reports showing massive action in voter registration in the Keystone State.

A plan like “Operation Chaos” is a conspiracy theorist’s dream. After all, it’s not often someone is talking openly about a plan to rig an election. But could something as, well, Dr. Evil-sounding as “Operation Chaos” actually have an effect on the campaign?

After acknowledging that there is even such a thing as Operation Chaos, Chinni presents evidence to show it will have little effect in Pennsyvania:

“The answer,” well-known Philadelphia political ad man Neil Oxman wrote in an e-mail, “is that somebody needs to look at what counties those switches came in and what places in those counties the switches occurred. If switches were in liberal places in Montgomery County, I don’t think they were Limbaugh people. If they were in conservative places in Clinton County, they very well might be.”

So we looked. We found Limbaugh’s on-air urgings could wind up affecting the Pennsylvania race, but probably not.

The final results aren’t in yet (Pennsylvania’s voter registration deadline was Monday). But in the past two weeks before March 17, more than 51,000 voters in the state switched to register as Democrats. Pennsylvania rules allow only registered Democrats to vote in the Democratic primary. So Republicans and Independents wanting to vote in the Democratic contest had to switch their affiliation by the voter registration deadline.

Most of those switches though, about 28,000, were in the counties that voted for John Kerry in 2004. Many were in Democratic strongholds such as Montgomery County, which had more than 3,400 switches.

In the state’s most conservative counties – those that gave President Bush more than 70 percent of their vote – a little more than 1,000 people switched to register as Democrats.

However, as Chinni himself notes, those statistics are outdated so he leaves open the possibility that Operation Chaos might have a big effect on the Pennsyvania primary after all:

Still, that doesn’t mean Operation Chaos will have no effect at all. Remember: All those registrations that came in at the deadline aren’t included in the tally yet. And 23,000-plus of the Democratic switches did come in counties that voted for Mr. Bush in 2004.

So Chinni was using registration data that didn't come in at the deadline for his premise that Operation Chaos will have little effect. At least he admits the possibility that Operation Chaos will end up causing chaos to the Democrats.