Posted inElections

Three signs that Republicans don’t believe their own hype about a looming red wave

Republicans speak confidently of victory this month, but their own actions belie that confidence. They're definitely eager to win, but they're also very fearful that they won't, and we can see that insecurity in their behavior.
Washington Post headline: Republicans sue to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in swing states
Washington Post headline: Republicans sue to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in swing states

Although nobody knows what is going to hap­pen in tomor­row’s midterm elec­tions, Repub­li­cans con­tin­ue to furi­ous­ly spin the nar­ra­tive that 2022 is a “red wave” year and Democ­rats are pow­er­less to change the fate of the elec­tion. In the words of for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia State Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair Rob Glea­son: “Their peo­ple are depressed… Nothing’s going to be able to save them this year.”

In real­i­ty, data indi­cates that this is a par­tic­u­lar­ly chaot­ic and unusu­al elec­tion in which many dif­fer­ent out­comes are plau­si­ble. That makes pre­dict­ing results — a prob­lem­at­ic exer­cise to begin with — par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult and unwise.

Repub­li­cans speak con­fi­dent­ly of vic­to­ry this month, but their own actions belie that con­fi­dence. They’re def­i­nite­ly eager to win, but they’re also very fear­ful that they won’t, and we can see that inse­cu­ri­ty in their behav­ior. Here are three signs that indi­cate Repub­li­cans don’t believe their own hype about a loom­ing red wave.

A big batch of not-credible polls

Repub­li­cans have pub­licly released a whole bunch of sus­pect polls in the final weeks of the cam­paign in an effort to influ­ence polling aggre­ga­tors like FiveThir­tyEight and pro­cure favor­able media cov­er­age about their prospects. That’s not some­thing that a polit­i­cal par­ty con­fi­dent of vic­to­ry would do.

“In six major bat­tle­ground states, more than half the polls con­duct­ed in Octo­ber have been con­duct­ed by Repub­li­can firms,” the NDN’s Simon Rosen­berg explained on a recent episode of Joy Rei­d’s MSNBC show, TheRei­d­Out.

“That means that basi­cal­ly we can’t trust the data on Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics or FiveThir­tyEight any longer because it’s essen­tial­ly Repub­li­can propaganda.”

It’s impor­tant to note that this crop of Repub­li­can polls is sep­a­rate from the inter­nal polling that Repub­li­can firms are doing for cam­paigns and inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures. Both sides are hold­ing their inter­nal polling close to the vest, but Repub­li­cans have addi­tion­al­ly fund­ed a project specif­i­cal­ly intend­ed to gen­er­ate favor­able pub­lic num­bers for their can­di­dates in states and dis­tricts of interest.

“This is an unprece­dent­ed mas­sive cam­paign by the Repub­li­cans to game the polling aver­age. And it’s dis­ap­point­ing to me this wasn’t caught ear­li­er by many of the peo­ple that do this that are on TV and do this for a liv­ing. But it has to be under­stood now that the polling aver­ages have been cor­rupt­ed,” said Rosenberg.

Tom Bonier, the CEO of Tar­getS­mart, a data-ori­ent­ed firm that works on behalf of Democ­rats and pro­gres­sives, observed on Octo­ber 28th: “Last week: polls show GOP leads nation­al­ly. Ear­ly this week: polls show Dem leads nation­al­ly. Late this week: GOP poll­sters release an avalanche of polls show­ing GOP leads.”

Won­kette has also writ­ten about what Repub­li­cans are up to.

Backtracking on opposition to early voting

Owing in large part to Don­ald Trump and oth­er Repub­li­cans’ ridicu­lous attacks on vote-at-home­/vote-by-mail, many Repub­li­can vot­ers are declin­ing to vote ear­ly, choos­ing instead to wait until Elec­tion Day to vote. Mean­while, Democ­rats are “bank­ing” mil­lions upon mil­lions of ear­ly votes, which is mak­ing Repub­li­cans in swing states like Ari­zona extreme­ly ner­vous. So ner­vous that, as The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed today, they’re back­track­ing on their anti-ear­ly vot­ing stance:

For years, the chair of Arizona’s Repub­li­can Par­ty has led attacks on this swing state’s ear­ly vot­ing sys­tem, warn­ing with­out evi­dence that mail-in vot­ing and bal­lot drop box­es are inse­cure and unreliable.

Kel­li Ward urged her fol­low­ers to instead “wait in line & vote in person.”

Then, last Tues­day, she post­ed a pho­to of her­self smil­ing in front of a steel bal­lot drop box. In her hand appeared to be an enve­lope, slid halfway inside.

“Hub­by & I vot­ed ear­ly in per­son today,” her Twit­ter post said.

The new mes­sag­ing from the par­ty leader came amid anx­i­eties among Ari­zona Repub­li­cans that their assaults on ear­ly vot­ing could ulti­mate­ly sup­press GOP turnout in a cycle that will help decide con­trol of the U.S. Sen­ate, the governor’s office and dozens of oth­er contests.

If Ward and oth­er Repub­li­cans were real­ly supreme­ly con­fi­dent about a loom­ing red wave, they would have stuck to their guns and urged Repub­li­can vot­ers to vote at polling places only, not through the post or by return­ing to a drop box.

Repub­li­can poll­ster Paul Bentz told The Post that he thinks Trump’s attacks on Amer­i­can elec­tions are boomerang­ing. “He sup­pressed his own vote and trans­formed a por­tion of his own elec­torate from ear­ly votes that were bank­able and that were reli­able, to Elec­tion Day vot­ers,” Bentz remarked.

Mean­while, Repub­li­can con­sul­tant Con­stan­tin Quer­ard admit­ted to The Post that there’s a huge risk to putting all of your eggs into one bis­cuit. “The dan­ger is, any time you just say, ‘Okay, well, I’ll turn all my votes out on just one day,’ is if some­thing hap­pens that day, like unex­pect­ed sick­ness or weath­er problems.”

Lawsuits to disqualify legitimately cast ballots

In key swing states like Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan, and Wis­con­sin, Repub­li­cans have filed law­suits aimed at ensur­ing that legit­i­mate­ly cast bal­lots they think will favor Democ­rats get thrown out and not count­ed due to technicalities.

Here’s a Wash­ing­ton Post sto­ry on these efforts:

Repub­li­can offi­cials and can­di­dates in at least three bat­tle­ground states are push­ing to dis­qual­i­fy thou­sands of mail bal­lots after urg­ing their own sup­port­ers to vote on Elec­tion Day, in what crit­ics are call­ing a con­cert­ed attempt at par­ti­san vot­er suppression.

In Penn­syl­va­nia, the state Supreme Court has agreed with the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee that elec­tion offi­cials should not count bal­lots on which the vot­er neglect­ed to put a date on the out­er enve­lope — even in cas­es when the bal­lots arrive before Elec­tion Day. Thou­sands of bal­lots have been set aside as a result, enough to swing a close race.

In Michi­gan, Kristi­na Karamo, the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for sec­re­tary of state, sued the top elec­tion offi­cial in Detroit last month, seek­ing to toss absen­tee bal­lots not cast in per­son with an ID, even though that runs con­trary to state require­ments. When asked in a recent court hear­ing, Karamo’s lawyer declined to say why the suit tar­gets Detroit, a heav­i­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic, major­i­ty-Black city, and not the entire state.

And in Wis­con­sin, Repub­li­cans won a court rul­ing that will pre­vent some mail bal­lots from being count­ed when the required wit­ness address is not complete.

As of press time, this report­ing is cur­rent­ly the top sto­ry on

Washington Post headline: Republicans sue to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in swing states
Wash­ing­ton Post head­line: Repub­li­cans sue to dis­qual­i­fy thou­sands of mail bal­lots in swing states

Here in Wash­ing­ton State, vote at home is the default and the law clear­ly says that vot­ers have until 8 PM on Elec­tion Day to return their bal­lots. Bal­lots that get an Elec­tion Day post­mark get count­ed. A bal­lot does­n’t need to be received by elec­tion offi­cials by the dead­line to be valid­ly cast. The return enve­lope must be signed and dat­ed and vot­ers are accus­tomed to pro­vid­ing this authentication.

A polit­i­cal par­ty tru­ly con­fi­dent of vic­to­ry would­n’t try to sup­press the vote because it would not be nec­es­sary. If Repub­li­cans are des­tined to win and there’s noth­ing Democ­rats can do about it, then all of these law­suits aimed at stop­ping vot­ers’ votes from being count­ed would­n’t have been filed. They would have been unjus­ti­fi­able: a total and inex­cus­able waste of par­ty resources.

But Repub­li­cans know per­fect­ly well the midterms are not in the bag for them. As in 2020, the prospect of los­ing to Democ­rats is sim­ply unbearable.

That’s why Repub­li­cans are pulling out all the stops to rig the out­come in their favor, whether that’s pump­ing out bad polls, back­track­ing on vot­ing instruc­tions to their own fol­low­ers, or launch­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion lawsuits.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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