14 October 2020
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65.8 million ballots cast in her favor to Donald Trump's 62.9 million. Using that total of 127.7 million as a base, presuming turnout this year is appoximately the same, the 12 million votes already cast represent almost 10% of the vote that is coming. That means that for 10% of the voters, this race is already over, and nothing either campaign or perverse chance can do will change things for them. Political campaigns must refine their strategies accordingly.
In the allegedly good, old days, the only voting that happened was on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. True, there were some absentee ballots to consider, but there was no other mechanism for the people to vote. Then, early voting came along as did postal balloting. Some states even run all their elections via the mail now. This means that the Get Out the Vote efforts, traditionally a 48-hour sprint on the Monday before and on Election Day itself, have already begun and will be a month-long marathon. Campaign money spent on persuasion at this point might be better spent in GOTV activities.
The two main parties have adopted different strategies. The Republicans have followed the president's lead and have put most of their attention on the November 3 balloting. Allegations of mail-in fraud (which is statistically non-existent) and fears of someone tampering with their votes will bring lots of GOP votes in-person on Election Day.
The trouble with that approach is that the Democrats have started banking their votes now. Their turnout machine is already focused on getting the True Blue Democrats to vote early so that the party GOTV efforts can focus on those who might not otherwise vote.
And that brings the discussion to the other factor that early voting can affect, namely over-all turnout. About a year and a half ago, Fivethirtyeight.com put out a study that suggested turnout does not really alter the number of ballots cast as much as it does the timing of the actual vote. However, there is some evidence from the 2018 mid-term elections and from the primaries earlier this year that turnout is going to be much bigger than the 128 million cast in 2016. People in Georgia and in Texas have stood in line for as long as 10 hours to vote early this week. The Atlantic reports that in Dane County, Wisconsin, a third of the vote was already in with four weeks to go. That kind of enthusiasm suggests a huge number of votes are coming.
This is almost inherently bad for the Trump campaign. Republicans can win elections by appealing to those who are not part of the GOP base, but the Trump administration and campaign have spent years trying to get the base to turn up at the expense of winning over any voters who are luke-warm to the president. They are playing a game of subtraction, but winning over voters to reach a majority is a game of addition. This is why the Republican Party has turned its guns on suppressing the vote.
In most polls, the Republican ticket is behind not only nationally, but also in the states where the election will be decided. More people turning out tends not to favor the incumbent. While there may be some shy Trump-voters, people who won't admit to a pollster their true voting intentions, it is hard to believe they exist in the kinds of numbers needed to overcome the Democrats' lead. As a result, the only way the Trump campaign can find a path to 270 electoral votes is to prevent some of the votes being cast from being counted.
© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.