The Daily Beast's Richard Hasen thinks voter suppression in North Carolina could backfire:
There seems little doubt that the Republican legislature has passed these laws in an attempt to gain partisan advantage. As Nate Cohn explains, a recent study by the State Board of Elections on just the voter-ID portion of the [North Carolina] law certainly would have its greatest negative impact on nonwhite voters likely to vote for Democrats, and likely many other parts of the law will as well.Ross Douthat agrees:
But if state Republicans think that this is their ticket to electoral victory, they may be in for an unpleasant surprise. To begin with, as Cohn points out, the effects of voter-identification laws on turnout are modest, more modest than both Republicans and Democrats likely believe. If nothing would be done in response to all the diverse provisions of the North Carolina law, the effects could be more serious.
There is good reason to think, however, that there will be a strong reaction from Democrats, minority voters, and voting-rights activists if this law passes. Litigation to bar paid voter-registration drives will probably be struck down. Activists will spend considerable energy seeking to negate the effects of these laws and to increase turnout.
In addition, a law such as House Bill 589 will energize Democrats. As I've argued, voter-suppression efforts often backfire, perhaps increasing fundraising and turnout on the left. The bill gives Democrats a great cause to rally around in North Carolina even as they will spend significant resources fighting the restrictions.
... precisely because the liberal outrage over voter ID laws is disproportionate -- for understandable historical reasons and cynical political reasons alike -- to their actual impact, it is quite possibly self-defeating for Republicans to keep pushing them. In exchange for a marginal benefit to their candidates on election day, the G.O.P. is handing Democrats a powerful symbolic issue for mobilizing minority voters, and sending a message to African-Americans that their suspicions about conservatism are basically correct, and that rather than actually doing outreach to blacks the right would rather not have them vote at all.If this is accurate, it's not the only example in recent life of a powerful group choosing to punish the less powerful at a cost to itself. Look at the economy over the last six years. Yes, the rich are doing fine, but even they must realize that they'd be doing better if the rest of us had a little more money to buy goods and services. But here and in Europe they'd rather work the system to make sure it keeps punishing us. It's as if hurting the people they hate -- us "takers" -- is so soul-satisfying to them that they'd rather do it to us forever than have a sustained economic recovery.
The Republican Party clearly feels the same way about non-whites: let's keep alienating black and Hispanic voters, let's abort all attempts at outreach, and let's sustain that effort even if it means the GOP can't win another presidential election for the foreseeable future. It's as if the hate is just too satisfying not to indulge, no matter what the cost.
And if voter suppression leads to a backlash and higher turnout of suppressed groups, maybe they'll just double the hate and suppression, and thus double the backlash. Maybe they'll never learn.