Thursday, March 18, 2021


The New York Times reports:
... in Iowa — a state that’s been trending red for years, and where Donald Trump won by over eight percentage points in November — a new survey by one of the country’s top pollsters suggests that voters are irked by the latest push to curtail voting access.
Last week, the state’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, signed a bill passed by the G.O.P.-led state legislature that includes a number of restrictions on voting, including shortening the early-voting period by nine days and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day.

The new poll, conducted by Selzer & Co. for The Des Moines Register and released today, found that 52 percent of Iowans were opposed to condensing the early-voting period, and 42 percent were in favor.

There was a deep partisan divide, with 71 percent of Republicans favoring the move and 81 percent of Democrats opposed. Among independents, 51 percent were against the change, while 43 percent were in favor.
We really have no idea whether a majority of voters are "irked" by this provision of the new law. It's opposed by a majority of poll respondents -- but we don't know how strongly they feel about it. My guess is that many non-Republicans contacted by the pollsters hadn't really thought about it until they were asked about it, while many Republicans are strongly in favor of the curtailment. ("The worst are full of passionate intensity" and all that.) Don't forget that Republicans are used to passing laws with minority support -- gun laws in particular, but also the Trump tax cut -- because most Republican officeholders need only GOP and GOP-leaning voters to win reelection. They don't care what the rest of us think. They don't have to. Opponents of Republican policies in red states can rarely muster the anger needed to drive the Republicans who support those policies out of office.

The implication of this Times story is that popular opposition might make this a risky vote for Republicans. But recent experience suggests that Republicans have to shock the conscience -- a la Donald Trump or former Missouri governor Eric Greitens -- in order to alienate enough voters to be forced out of office. Mere opposition to a bill won't do it. (And both Trump and Greitens appear to be planning comebacks.)

This story imagines Republican voters who might be genuinely appalled at their own party's vote suppression efforts. A Times op-ed writer imagines Republicans in the Senate having a similar unimsginable moment of decency.

Bob Bauer, who advised President Biden's campaign, notes that the Democrats' big voting rights bill is unlikely to win the votes of enough GOP senators to pass, but he thinks Democrats could win Republican support for a stand-alone bill that includes one particular provision.
Congress should consider a targeted federal law to counter this march of these draconian state laws. And it could be designed in such a way that some Republicans would support it — or find it uncomfortable to explain why they wouldn’t.

This law would make clear that a state may not revise its rules to restrict voting access in federal elections in specified areas — including the withdrawal of existing vote-by-mail opportunities and reductions in early voting — unless it is done on a bipartisan basis....

In applying a bipartisanship requirement to this proposed measure for restrictive state voting rules, Congress could, for example, provide that a state legislative rule change would have to have the support of at least a third to one-half of the second-largest party of the state legislature.
At Talking Points Memo, John Judis has a similar dewy-eyed proposal:
What I would suggest is that the Democrats boil down their efforts to several measures that would frustrate current voting suppression efforts and that very possibly might command the support of ten Republicans who opposed Donald Trump’s attempt to steal the last election. I am not a legislative expert and cannot say exactly what those provisions would be. My guess would be making general election day a federal holiday, which is very popular, ensuring that polling places are readily available in number and distance. and ensuring that voters can vote by mail. I would stop there at these popular measures.
Bauer and Judis are delusional. The central argument of Republicans as they restrict voting is that any voting provision that has the consent of Democrats will encourage fraud by definition, because Democrats are congenital cheaters who just want to game the system every chance they get. (Yes, this is projection.) Republican election bills are designed to prevent compulsive Democratic cheating. This cheating is imaginary, but the overwhelming majority of rank-and-file Republicans believe it's real, so they'll never support any voting law Democrats support.

No Republican will support the kinds of compromises Bauer and Judis are proposing. None will respond to the Iowa governor or legislators who backed the vote-suppression law by rejecting them at the polls next time.

You can look for good Republicans all you want. You won't find them.

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