An analysis in this morning’s New York Times — Does Vote-by-Mail Favor Democrats? No. It’s a False Argument by Trump. — shows that voting by mail (VBM) doesn’t necessarily tilt the election to the Democrats:

As with false claims by Republicans about vote-by-mail fraud, there is no evidence to back up the argument from the right that all-mail elections favor Democrats. But Mr. Trump and some of his allies are warning that vote-by-mail poses an existential threat to their party, in hopes of galvanizing Republican opposition to a voting method that is widely seen as safer than in-person voting in the era of the coronavirus.

The article reports on various studies in states that have partial or complete VBM show that partisan advantage is minimal at best, and can just as easily favor Republicans as Democrats. In fact, VBM makes some Democrats nervous, the article explains, because some racial groups have been found to be reluctant to use it.

“Most vote-by-mail states are overwhelmingly white,” the letter [to MD Governor Larry Hogan] said, then cited a 2011 study sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts that found mandatory voting by mail reduced the chances that a person would vote, particularly among urban voters, who were 50 percent less likely to vote in an all-mail election.

There is also evidence that the GOP has figured out how to skew VBM in their favor:

And there are also cases like Nebraska, which allows counties of less than 10,000 people to mail ballots to all voters (many of them Republicans) but forbids it in large urban areas (where many voters are Democrats). Texas allows no-excuse absentee voting for people 65 or older, another group that skews Republican.

The Nebraska example is even more pernicious in this age of physical distancing. Forcing people to vote in person, and then reducing the number of places where they can do it, has the effect of cutting down urban votes — which is where the Democrats are strongest. We saw this in Milwaukee the other day.

So, VBM has the effect of getting more people to vote, but it doesn’t appear to favor one party or the other overall. So some Republicans are OK with it. But Trump decidedly is not — because he knows how unpopular he is, even if he won’t admit it. His path to a second term requires reducing the number of voters as much as he can, figuring that those who hate him will stay home. But those who would let him get away with stacking morgue trucks on Fifth Avenue will turn out in droves. After all, God will protect them while they go out to vote for His Chosen Orange One.

Always, always, it’s about him. He doesn’t care who dies, just that they live long enough to vote for him.

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