Donald Trump Is Trashing Republican GOTV Efforts

Mark Hertzberg/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones’ newsletters.The Washington Post describes how the lunacy of the Trumpified Republican Party is playing out:

President Trump’s relentless attacks on the security of mail voting are driving suspicion among GOP voters toward absentee ballots — a dynamic alarming Republican strategists, who say it could undercut their own candidates, including Trump himself.
….The growing Republican antagonism toward voting by mail comes even as the Trump campaign is launching a major absentee-ballot program in every competitive state, according to multiple campaign advisers — a delicate balancing act, considering what one strategist described as the president’s “imprecision” on the subject. “It’s very concerning for Republicans,” said a top party operative, who like several others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid drawing Trump’s ire. “I guarantee our Republican Senate candidates are having it drilled into them that they cannot accept this. They have to have sophisticated mail programs. If we don’t adapt, we won’t win.”

It’s hard to overstate just how crazy this is. For years, Republicans have been on a cynical rampage against (virtually nonexistent) voter fraud, but there’s always been one thing they didn’t attack: vote-by-mail. Why? Because absentee voting is used mostly by older, whiter voters who vote Republican. The voter fraud cops were interested only in making it harder to vote in person, which is used more by younger, non-white voters who are likely to vote for Democrats.
In other words, Republican strategists know perfectly well which kinds of voting favor which candidates. And the answer is that voting by mail favors Republicans. But Donald Trump didn’t know that because Donald Trump doesn’t know much of anything. So when he saw Democrats demanding vote-by-mail during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, he just naturally assumed it was because vote-by-mail must be good for Democrats. It never occurred to him that this might have been nothing more than a genuine concern for the health and safety of voters. After all, that kind of thing would never occur to him.
So now Republicans are stuck. It’s in their best interest to encourage vote-by-mail, but Trump—and therefore Fox News, talk radio, the Wall Street Journal, etc.—are busily undermining confidence in it. It’s hard to imagine a mess they deserve more.