Since we noticed yesterday that John Boehner said to a room full of reporters in Tampa that when it came to minority vote turnout this election, "I'd suggest to you they won't show up," lots of places have accused us of twisting the House Speaker's words. They're mainly upset with the word "hope" in our headline — "Boehner Says Out Loud He Hopes Blacks and Latinos 'Won't Show Up' This Election." Mediaite called the headline "misleading" while right-leaning Newsbusters called it "slander." But we think it's pretty clear what Boehner said: he hopes that Republicans will do well in the elections because he believes ("I suggest to you") minority voter turnout will be low ("they won't show up"). "Boehner Hopes for Republicans to Win This Election" would have been a more boring headline, but it would have been just as accurate.
Since different racial groups tend to vote differently from one another, it isn't terribly controversial or unusual for a disinterested political scientist or a cable news pundit to make predictions on things like turnout. People are spending a lot of time and money crunching numbers to put together models of what the electorate will look like on November 6. But John Boehner is not a disinterested party: He serves on the executive committee of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has raised $109 million -- and spent $63 million -- so far to elect Republican House members. He gave $1.7 million of his own campaign funds to the NRCC in July. At the same event in Tampa, a luncheon hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, he also underlined how focused he is on winning the election: "My goal is to gain seats.… We’re on the offense and I’m going to keep my team on offense all through the election." It's not much of a reach to say that Boehner hopes Republicans will win, and when he was asked to explain how that might happen despite polls showing historically low minority support, he predicted that low turnout for those groups means the polls won't matter. His prediction, in other words, is what he hopes will happen.