The political right needs to change course on elections reform

New York polling place circa 1900, showing voting booths on the left. Source: Wikipedia.

Was the 2020 election a wipeout for the Republican Party? At first blush, yes. The party lost control of the presidency and the Senate — two years after losing the House of Representatives. Things have not been this bad since Herbert Hoover’s presidency. He too was a one-term president whose party lost control over the first and second branches with breathtaking speed.

But that’s not the whole story, and a closer look reveals many positives for the GOP. They actually gained seats in the House and turned back the much predicted blue wave. In the Senate, they had to defend 21 seats — and lost only three of them. And their president barely lost, despite historically high negative ratings. Had around 81,000 votes gone the other way in a few key states, he would have earned a second term. Biden’s seven-million popular vote margin also looks less impressive if one remembers that three-quarters of that margin came from California.

The GOP should also take heart at who voted for them. Professor Andrew Busch of Claremont McKenna College points out “Trump gained four percentage points among blacks (to 12%), four among Latinos (to 32%), and seven among Asians (to 34%).” One exit poll found nearly one in five Black men voted for Trump. In Florida, which so many pollsters had all but given to Joe Biden, Trump triumphed thanks to Latino votes.

At the state level, Republicans also did well. They won eight of 11 races for governor and currently occupy 27 of 50 gubernatorial mansions. Republicans also have majorities in 29 of the 50 state senates and half the lower chambers. And Republicans achieved all this despite the nation suffering from a pandemic and economic tumults, as well as running with President Trump’s high disapproval ratings.

The GOP should be looking at all these positive developments and thinking about ways to replicate and expand them. But no. Instead, many Republicans see 2020 as a disaster, and blame fraud — which they failed to prove — and high voter turnout for their defeats. Even worse, they are advocating policies that are all but certain to reduce voter turnout.…(Read more)

Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC. My books: Congress Overwhelmed (2020) and… See