President Donald Trump was candid Thursday in his concern that if his campaign is unsuccessful in its multi-lawsuit attempt to block states’ expansion of voting by mail, his reelection will be “at risk.”
“My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits,” Trump said during an interview with Politico. “We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don’t win those lawsuits, I think — I think it puts the election at risk.”
Trump has become increasingly frank about his belief that the more people are able to vote, the better that is for Democrats — specifically, the better that is for Joe Biden.
During a Fox News interview in April, Trump didn’t even attempt to mask his disdain for House Democrats’ attempt to package election assistance with coronavirus relief legislation.
“The things they had in there were crazy,” he said then. “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
And his campaign has put its money where its mouth is.
It’s currently entangled in lawsuits in Wisconsin including voter ID and in New Mexico over voting by mail. The campaign has also interfered in more low-profile ways, working with Republicans in the Pennsylvania state legislature to defang Democratic vote-by-mail expansion proposals.
The Trump campaign tends to cite a fear of voter fraud — a problem that, in reality, is virtually nonexistent — to cover its voter suppression efforts.
Democrats have been pushing back with equal fervor. Led in many cases by Marc Elias, a veteran election attorney and chairman of Perkins Coie’s Political Law Group, Democrats have lodged a series of their own lawsuits.
The intensity of the legal battle is due, in part, to the unpredictability of the coming election. The COVID-19 pandemic has left turnout unpredictable, made voting by mail a pressing necessity and shown some gruesome examples of what can happen when states are unprepared for the new curveballs.
But politically, Trump also has good reason to want to manipulate how expansive voting will be for this election. His recent polling has been dismal — a Fox News poll from this week showed Biden up 12 points nationally. A slew of other polls have also showed Biden up significantly in places like Michigan and Wisconsin, and only slightly behind in usual Republican locks like Ohio and Iowa.Trump has also been consistently rated low on his handling of the two biggest issues of the day: the pandemic and race relations amid nationwide protests over police brutality.