You can see some of the headlines from last night’s primaries here on the front page of TPM. I wanted to share a couple other general observations.
To me the most striking thing about last night was how much same-day voting, as opposed to early or mail-in voting, has become a central feature of partisan identity for Trumpy Republicans. If you’re for Trump, you vote in person on Election Day. The other stuff is all suspect. The fairly unique dynamics of the 2020 election and its Big Lie aftermath have ossified into doctrines.
This is a pretty dramatic reversal. Republicans long dominated mail-in and no-excuse absentee balloting. That was particularly the case for older Republicans and it was at least part of the GOP’s traditional turnout advantage. But again, now that’s all out the window.
You could see this play out last night because the sharper election observers rightly cautioned people not to put too much stock in the first numbers in the GOP primaries. Why? Because those were almost all early and mail-in votes. The Big Lie huckster Doug Mastriano was in something like 5th place at one point in the early results. After the Election Day vote came in he ended up totally crushing everyone else. Madison Cawthorn ended up going down to defeat last night by the thinnest of margins. But he was actually way behind based on the first reports. The same day vote almost allowed him to come back. Just came up slightly short.
I see this mainly as evidence of the cultic nature of the contemporary GOP and the tight hold of the Big Lie. Democrats are big supporters of early voting. But I don’t know anyone who has strong feelings about which option individuals use. Does anyone you know give you a funny look if you vote on Election Day? I doubt it.
The more operational question is whether this will affect the results of actual elections. It’s not like zero Trump Republicans vote early. A few do. Just not many. So presumably those who would struggle to vote in person do use this option. But it does at least open up some vulnerability. It’s just easier to vote on your own schedule and for many by mail. It’s also less risky. If your whole team is voting on Election Day you have extra exposure to the random chance of bad weather and other unpredictable events. I doubt this will be a big issue going forward. But it’s not nothing.
One counter-advantage Republicans have is that they tend to vote in areas with less long lines. Election Day voting is a challenge for Democratic campaigns because people have to wait in long lines. You want to bank as much of the vote as possible before Election Day to avoid that pressure on Election Day, avoid people bailing because they’re waiting for hours. That way there’s fewer numbers of people you have to get to the polls on that one day.
Republicans have some of this problem too. But they tend to be in suburban and rural areas where lines just aren’t as long. Some of that is the result of election practices targeting Democratic and non-white voters. Some of it is underfunding, which can be a passive form of targeting. But some of it is just inherent to Democratic voters being so concentrated in cities.
The other irony is that Mastriano — Big Lie promoter and Jan 6th organizer — now has the exact result that Big Lie jokers use to discredit Biden’s victory. He was losing and then “suddenly” mid-evening he pulled ahead. Clearly fraud. Or just different kinds of voting being favored by different groups. Presumably his supporters won’t have an issue with this.