Forget Punk Republicans. The Associated Press thinks it has found the real voting bloc that could determine the next president of the United States. That would be a bunch of bearded guys and their bonneted wives who travel by horse-and-buggy, read by lantern light and seldom vote at all.

While the new UPN reality show “Amish in the City” has already confirmed the status of the Amish as the “it” religious sect of the summer television season, along comes the AP’s Lara Jakes Jordan today to report that this group — heavily clustered, as they are, in key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania — could also be the latest “it” swing voters this election season.

“Republicans Look to Harvest Amish Vote,” reads Jordan’s headline, and her lede confirms that the Amish, who “live without electricity, cars, telephones, and usually, without voting … are being sought out this year as Republicans try to sign up every possible supporter in presidential battleground states.” Readers also learn that the Amish — or the 10 percent of them who “experts believe … ever vote” — are more likely to support Bush, and that “Bush privately met with about 30 Amish” during a July campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

And yet, in the 12th paragraph, Jordan does an apparent about-face and reports that “neither presidential campaign is targeting the Amish.” Huh?

Jordan seems nearly as confused as one of her sources, a “bearded” Amish, Bush-supporting Pennsylvanian who brings us this cryptic, albeit colorful, quote: “You could hold up a dead mouse with a sign ‘I love Bush’ and we’d still probably think twice about stomping that mouse underfoot.”

Hey, it’s all Pennsylvania Dutch to us.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.