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Trump’s November Excuse Will Be Vote By Mail

I expect that the largest number of mail-in votes in history will happen this November. That means the results could take a few more days to percolate before we have a winner (even if it's a landslide). This will give Trump the excuse he needs if he loses.

It’s 133 days until Election Day, and it’s still President Trump’s election to lose. Joe Biden is a bookmark, a placeholder to measure the president’s ability to capture votes. The placeholder is 9.5 points up in national polling.

Biden leads in Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and is in a toss-up in North Carolina. If the election were held today, Biden could win 349 to 189 in the Electoral College.

Of course, Anything Can Happen™. At the same time in 2016, Herself had a double-digit lead over Trump in some polls. Other polls showed Trump pulling ahead. I don’t believe Trump thought he’d win in 2016. He was genuinely surprised he won given the polling numbers, and even then he barely pulled it off in the swing states. In 2016, it was Herself’s election to lose, and she lost it.

She had an excuse, that she continues to cling to: Trump “stole” the election using the Russians, and of course, the FBI’s bungled off-again-on-again investigation of her emails.

This time, it’s Trump’s election to lose, and if he loses it, his excuse is going to be mail-in ballots. This is why the president consistently tweets that the election can’t be “honest” if it’s done by mail.

Over and over again, the president’s position is shown to be, at best, a tenuous hold on the facts. We know that mail-in voting, in the era of COVID-19, is here. All Trump is doing is planting the seeds of excuse if he loses.

Absentee voting in mass numbers, in a single election, carries no more fraud risk than in-person voting. However, long term, it is fraught with risk, especially if registration is not done in-person. Minority voters feel disenfranchised by the current absentee system, which requires current ID and records reflecting an address (meaning if you move a lot, it’s a greater burden to keep up with).

As the LA Times noted, even Trump himself has voted absentee. For people who live in a stable home, that’s an easy choice, and with coronavirus threatening, I expect many states will push that to avoid the mess Georgia had this month.

Vote by mail is popular, with polls showing about two thirds of voters supporting it, at least in this election cycle. Five states already conduct elections primarily by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. All states offer absentee voting, and many will push (or have already pushed) to eliminate “excuse only” clauses for this cycle.

I expect that the largest number of mail-in votes in history will happen this November. That means the results could take a few more days to percolate before we have a winner (even if it’s a landslide). This will give Trump the excuse he needs if he loses.

“It’s quite possible that President Trump could be ahead in the count on election night, but as millions of additional ballots are counted over the next few days the lead could shift to Biden,” UC Irvine law professor Richard Hasen told CNN last month . “And Trump, who has been making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud for years, has now started shifting to making these claims about mail-in balloting, and he could certainly claim that there’s something wrong about how the vote count was done.”

A guide to the push to expand mail voting, LA Times, June 23, 2020

I don’t think, should he lose, Trump will try to hang on to power. If he loses, he’ll go, like all presidents have done. But we won’t have seen the last of Trump, as the narrative of “rigged election” will live on.

And if Trump closes the gap and wins, expect Democrats to claim Trump cheated. Both sides will be playing the game this election. Honestly, 2024 can’t get here soon enough.

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