While she’s definitely not the only one saying this, she’s probably one of the more high-profile people banging this particular drum. Former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News yesterday to address the Republicans’ poor performance in the midterms and how they might do better next time. Like others, Conway seems to be throwing in the towel and admitting that the Democrats are doing a better job with the logistics of getting out the vote and running up the totals, even when voters seem turned off by their policies. Her advice to the GOP? Be more like the Democrats. Embrace early voting, voting by mail and ballot harvesting. This really seems like the old theory of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” But is a message of “be more like the Democrats” going to resonate with conservative voters? And do we really want to dance with the devil and go down that path? (RealClearPolitics)
KELLYANNE CONWAY: The Democrats were unified last week on how to divide America and scare them into getting to the polls. We had a much better message, we respected the voters more, talking about their top concerns (inflation, crime, education, and the rest). And that reaped benefits in some places…
We also have to unify on tactics. I think the Democrats have just done a better job investing in what I call the non-sexy parts of politics. They’re ballot harvesting. They’re banking early votes.
Somehow, our voters still feel very shy about voting early. Some of them don’t trust the machines. Others say, “I’m a traditional voter, I go to the polls.” Whatever it is, we need to get smart, not just about voter engagement and candidate recruitment, but banking those ballots early. We’re taking a chance that grandpa can get out of the house on Election Day or any eventuality that can affect any of us. We need to start banking those votes early.
Before dismissing this out of hand, I’ll admit that I can see how this is starting to appeal to some people. The midterm elections were a debacle. The Democrats were following a very unpopular president whose policies have made the country a far worse place in any number of easily measured categories. People were almost uniformly worried and frightened and didn’t like the direction the country was going in.
And yet they managed to hold on and win any number of races they rightfully should have lost by a considerable margin. How did they do it? It wasn’t with good policy or better candidates (see Fetterman, John). They beat the GOP in the technical categories. They may not have had enough votes to do that well in a “normal” election cycle, but they dragged out every last one of them. Whether they used any illegal or at least dubious practices to do so is a debate for another day, but there is no denying that what they did worked well enough to hang onto control of the Senate and keep the GOP’s margin in the House to a tiny number. It worked.
But even with all of that said, are conservatives ready to walk the plank and simply copy their tactics? There are very good reasons why so many Republicans and conservatives don’t want to trust these post-pandemic rules of how elections are operated. The more steps you place between the voter receiving their ballot and that ballot being officially counted, the more chances there are for error or mischief to intervene.
Some of the things she is suggesting just feel so fundamentally wrong. Election day should be election day, not election month. Absentee ballots should be reserved for those who are elderly, physically impaired, or will provably be out of town on election day and unable to cast their ballot. Public drop boxes are not continually supervised by designated election officials and are subject to tampering or errors, such as failing to lock properly. No person who is not a designated election official should be out there “harvesting” ballots and turning them in or “helping” the voter to make their selections. All of this opens the door to lessening trust in the process at a minimum and voter fraud in the worst scenarios.
Unfortunately, despite all of those realities, the Democrats have perfected those methods and they worked with brutal efficiency on November 8th. So do we throw in the towel and do the same or stand up against such impulses? Unfortunately, the election rules are set at the state level, so you will never get the blue states to go back to voting in traditional methods. And red states that do go back will lose out on the “benefits” the Democrats received from following these paths. That might swing any close election in their favor. I find myself torn and I simply don’t have a good answer to this question, but it’s one we’re going to have to answer sooner rather than later.