Swing(ing) Voters

The never-ending search for the demographic group that will swing the election has taken reporters down some strange roads. The award for the strangest to date, however, goes to two reporters who consult the poles as well as the polls — strip club poles, that is, and the potential voters who congregate around them.

The Associated Press’s Xiao Zhang yesterday reported that Wisconsin strip club owners “are putting a little bada-bing in the presidential campaign by asking patrons to turn their eyes away from the stage for a moment to fill out a voter registration form — and then vote against President Bush.”

Southern Wisconsin adult entertainment establishment the Isabella Queen and the adjacent Diamond Jim’s bar have registered “more than 200” voters in the past month, writes Zhang. (Something tells us these establishments aren’t on Reggie the Registration Rig’s itinerary). Zhang also reports that Members of the Association of Club Executives in Ohio have registered “about 2,000 people in just a few weeks, said chapter president Luke Liakos, who calls Attorney General John Ashcroft ‘the American Taliban.’”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Raquel Rutledge earlier this month delivered a similar story headlined, “Strip Clubs Focusing on Va-Va-Voter Drives.” Writes Rutledge, “It’s all part of a push by the adult entertainment industry to be heard in the 2004 presidential election. Industry advocates say President Bush’s conservative agenda threatens the livelihood of their businesses and jeopardizes the First Amendment.” Rutledge cites one First Amendment attorney worrying over “nude dancing could take a major hit should seats on the Supreme Court open up in the next four years under Bush.”

Note to political reporters everywhere: forget Soccer Moms and “Sex and the City” voters; it’s all about Strip Club Dads.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.