It’s hardly news that Donald Trump is plummeting in the polls – right now to roughly the same place Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were at the same point in their respective presidencies. As neither of them were re-elected, Trump is right to be concerned. Unlike those guys, however, who tried to unite their political parties and stake out a win in a difficult election year, Trump is mostly doing the opposite. He’s told large numbers of his base that voting by mail somehow makes it easier to cheat – for reasons that simultaneously include large numbers of people voting illegally and secret operatives collecting and disposing of millions of ballots.
This nonsense resonates with his base, of course, with lots of them passing around memes on social media decrying the evils of voting by mail and demanding in person ballots only. For Trump’s fellow Republican politicians and strategists, it’s a disaster. While Trump is attacking mail-in ballots, Republican candidates for Senate are trying to push vote-by-mail, even if it’s only because they otherwise can’t possibly hope to compete in the states that have already implemented these programs.
It’s gotten to where even the party’s top strategists are concerned that Trump’s baseless tweets may be discouraging his supporters from turning out to vote – as it resonates among older and more rural voters that the GOP needs to turn out, with many Republican voters openly turning down campaign invitations to vote by mail.
In Virginia, for example, 118,000 voters applied for absentee ballots for the Democratic primary on June 23, but only 59,000 voters did so for the Republican primary. It gets worse when you realize that most of the Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner ran unopposed, while the Republicans ran a contest to determine Warner’s opponent. Democrats already have an incentive to show up in large numbers as it is, while Republicans have come to rely on voter suppression to win. Donald Trump could be an obstacle to Republican candidates even when a majority of them support his policies.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making