Republican voter suppression schemes may catastrophically backfire: former Bush speechwriter

On Tuesday, writing for The Atlantic, former George W. Bush speechwriter and conservative Republican David Frum outlined why the GOP's newest round of voter restrictions is a catastrophic mistake for them — and that not only will it undermine democracy, it could actually prevent their own base from turning out to vote.

"Almost all the new laws raise new barriers to voting by mail. Republican officials dislike postal voting in 2021 because in 2020 Biden voters were much more likely than Trump voters to use a postal ballot," wrote Frum. "But that pro-Biden tilt in postal voting looks like a once-in-a-lifetime event, driven more by divergent reactions to the threat of the coronavirus than by ordinary voting behavior ... In previous elections, constituencies that have generally supported Democrats in recent years, including younger voters and members of racial minority groups, have tended to use postal ballots less frequently than do Republican-leaning constituencies, including older, white, and military voters."

Another problem with the GOP strategy, noted Frum, is that their panic about racial minorities, like Tucker Carlson's embrace of the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, is at odds with the fact that the GOP actually made gains with Latino voters in 2020 — and their redoubled attacks could undo all that progress for them.

"Donald Trump lost in 2020 in great part because his support collapsed among white voters, especially among white men," wrote Frum. "Meanwhile, Trump's share of the vote among Latino Americans actually improved from 2016 to 2020. The clear pattern, instead, is that conservatives are being outvoted by a coalition built around Black voters and white, college-educated voters. For a right-wing newscaster to look at recent elections and conclude 'We multi-generation Americans are being outvoted by newcomers' is a triumph of ideology over reality."

Ultimately, Frum wrote, the GOP's voter suppression tactics may adversely impact their own base, while enraging Democrats to greater turnout, and pressuring Congress and the courts to police voting laws more aggressively.

"Would a wiser use of political resources not be to compete to keep their votes in 2022 rather than engineer the voting system to thwart their votes?" concluded Frum. "Republicans would be smarter to switch off the race-baiters on cable news, read the precinct reports, and do the solid work necessary to earn and secure votes from voters who are ready to vote Republican if only the party will allow them to vote at all."

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