Because Republicans may have good reason to believe they can tweak a slim Trump loss into a fat Trump win…
- This is regardless of whether or not the “total meltdown” in Georgia’s voting system during its primary Tuesday was the result of innocent incompetence, or deliberate disenfranchisement.
- This is regardless of whether or not Trump is leading by a little on Election Night, but his lead is chipped away as mail-in ballots are counted, and the President cries foul and “voter fraud”!
- This is regardless of whether Joe Biden might win the popular vote by even more than Hillary Clinton did. Which is very possible. Though we never like going down this path because that’s just not the rules.
Put all that together though, and while things like Gallup’s poll this week showing Trump’s approval rating sliding below 40% seems significant, we think may not be that significant at this point in the game. And stuff like this Tweet below is definitely overstating the current situation:
We argued prior to the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton needed to be ahead in nationwide polling by 10 points on Election Day in order for her to be ensured a victory. Fact is, all she ended up needing was about maybe a 5-6 point margin. Still pretty big. And that hasn’t changed.
Is the math perhaps more forgiving this time, even if it’s not different? It could be. At the same time, in several swing states that are controlled by Republicans, lots of politicians have been working overtime to assist in changes to voting rules more favorable to both themselves and Trump.
How? A lot of old and new fashioned ways:
- By closing polling stations, particularly in places like Georgia, now that the government isn’t looking over the state’s shoulder anymore under the auspices of the Voting Rights Act, which was pretty much rendered toothless by the Supreme Court back in 2013. (5-4 decision, usual suspects, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the main opinion, in which he states: “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that”. But also that: “Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices….having no logical relation to the present day.”) And that’s led to far fewer polling stations, which even before widespread voting machine failures, has led to long, long lines, especially in minority-majority areas, as we also saw this week.
- By throwing people off voter rolls in record number if they haven’t voted in an election or two. The Supreme Court also made this a lot easier to do in 2018. Also a 5-4 decision. Federal law bans states from purging registered voters from voting rolls simply because they didn’t vote. So Republicans in Ohio tried try out a loophole: if someone doesn’t vote, instead of getting thrown off the rolls, they get a letter in the mail, and if they don’t respond to that, they’re off. In that way they’re technically not getting thrown off for not voting, they’re getting thrown off for not responding to a letter in the mail. Justice Alito wrote: “Ohio removes the registrants at issue on a permissible ground”. And that the National Voter Registration Act “specifically allows states to remove a voter who has ‘failed to respond to a notice’”.
- By putting a lot of the burden for mail-in voting on county governments, which may not have the funding, technology or personnel to adequately prepare for the onslaught expected this year.
- By passing new, restrictive voter ID laws, which are often inconsistent and hard to follow and usually at least make it somewhat difficult for people without a driver’s license to vote, which again most strongly impacts people who live in major cities who are more likely not to drive, and they tends to more likely be Democrats. Some states have different requirements for voter registration and voter ID, again which make things more difficult especially for non-drivers.
A couple of other factors may come come into play this year too in a very big way: “poll watchers” will be out in force, especially in “purple” states. This in itself is not new. But we can definitely expect to see a new level of aggressiveness from the Trump camp. While we don’t think voters will be easily intimidated based on the primaries, this could lead to even longer wait times, and more provisional ballots being cast by people whose credentials are questioned. Those provisional votes then may or may not be counted.
And finally, there will be the impact of COVID-19, especially if it re-emerges in a big way in the fall. Already in Texas, the state Supreme Court ruled that risk of becoming infected is not a legitimate excuse to get an absentee ballot. And in Georgia, one of the reasons that a lot of people ran into problems with absentee ballots is one of the people processing them got sick and passed away from COVID-19, after which the location in which they worked had to be completely shut down for a time. Also, by November (actually by the end of this month), the U.S. Postal Service will be completely under the control of Trump appointees, and that could make all the difference regarding whether mail-in ballots are handled with the priority status expected, and delivered in a timely way. Also, will they still be delivered even if they have no stamp, for instance, in states that require mail-in ballots be stamped? Right now, for the most part, they are.
So, maybe not the only way, but almost definitely the best way for none of these factors potentially coming into play, is to beat Trump by a lot. The only way to prevent the election for sure tipping in Trump’s way is to demolish him.
No ifs or buts.