El Trumpo readies election sabotage

This is not and will not cheer markets. Obviously, El Trumpo’s internal polling is saying the same thing as everybody else’s.

As I noted yesterday, El Trumpo is benefiting from mail-in ballots. Via The Economist:

By the time covid-19 took off in America, the presidential primaries were already wrapping up. However, some later-voting states creaked under a historic load of postal ballots. In primary elections in June, 21% of absentee ballots in New York City were rejected, mainly for hiccups like missing signatures. Such a rate in the general election would put its legitimacy in doubt.

The final impact of a surge in postal voting will not be known until weeks after the election. Yet North Carolina, a closely contested state, releases detailed data on ballots as they arrive. So far, its figures suggest that a tarnished election is unlikely—but that Democrats could be hurt by their disproportionate embrace of voting by mail.

The Tar Heel state has received eight times as many postal votes as it had by this point in 2016. Despite fears about first-time absentee voters botching their ballots, the share that are rejected has in fact fallen to 1.3%, from 2.6% in 2016. This is probably due in part to campaigns educating supporters on voting by mail, and also to new efforts by the state to process such ballots.

However, these gains have been concentrated among white and richer voters, causing North Carolina’s already large racial gap in rejection rates to widen. In 2016 black voters sent in 10% of postal ballots, but 18% of discarded ones. This year, those shares are 17% and 42%. That hurts Democrats, who rely on black voters’ support.

Partisan differences over voting by mail exacerbate this effect. In the past, Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to do so. But polling by YouGov now shows that 51% of likely Democratic voters plan to vote absentee, compared with 32% of Republicans. Extrapolating North Carolina’s patterns nationwide, a model built by Merlin Heidemanns of Columbia University finds that 0.7% of ballots intended for Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presidential nominee, will be rejected postal votes, versus 0.3% of those cast for Donald Trump. The gap is largest in safe Democratic states, but also affects battlegrounds like Florida.

Postal voting does offer Democrats a silver lining. Although absentee ballots are less likely to be counted than are those cast in person, they do not require voters to find a polling place, wait in queues or show id. They are also immune to illness, weather or other election-day emergencies.

But why let that stop you?

David Llewellyn-Smith
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