Several years ago, the Democrats realized something: in many states they held a decided registration lead, but they were still losing elections. For some reason, they couldn’t turn out their base. Perhaps it was culture, perhaps it was work, perhaps it was a welfare mentality of some of their voters.
So they came up with an ingenious method of boosting their turnout: expand the voting “day” to weeks! This was especially good for African-American communities, where churches held a service, had a pot-luck lunch, then buses showed up to tote people to the polls (which were conveniently open on Sunday).
A pattern developed: Republicans (except for Iowa for some reason) tended to dominate absentee mail-in voting; then when “early voting” (meaning “early walk-in voting”) commenced, Democrats would rapidly catch up and even lead. This was especially true in Florida and Ohio.
Then election day was for all the marbles. Mitt Romney won Florida on election day, but lost the “walk-in early voting/absentee” phase. Trump minimized the Democrats’ advantage in early voting and took Florida.
As more states adopted “early voting,” one would think a built-in Democrat advantage would hand them elections.
Not so fast.
The biggest impact of “early voting” has been to dilute and even nullify the effect of “October surprises.” After all, you can only “surprise” those people who haven’t voted early. As the number of early voters has increased (Florida will be close to 60% voting early this cycle), a “surprise” is wasted.
On the other side of the coin—and this really is a “surprise”—this cycle the Republicans (apparently entirely due to Trump) have figured out how to fight. In senate races Arizona, in Tennessee, in Missouri, and in numerous other races, Republicans with the help of James O’Keefe’s videos have sprung surprise after surprise on the Democrats. The latest is in Ohio, where Jim Renacci unleashed assault charges by unnamed women (Kavanaugh, anyone?) against Sherrod Brown.
(See, Democrats, Republicans can play that game too. They just haven’t til now).
The result has been that once close races in Missouri and Tennessee have opened up, and I expect the Arizona and Ohio races to follow. And don’t be “surprised” if a few more bombs trickle out.
So just as the “nuclear option” in the Senate backfired on Democrats, their latest election rigging ploy now has become a tool for Republicans to win elections. Ain’t life grand?
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