Talking Points

Republicans are inadvertently suppressing their own voters

We now have a likely answer to the question of what will happen if Republicans keep manufacturing charges of "voter fraud" every time they lose an election: Fewer Republican voters will go to the polls.

At a Wednesday postmortem on this week's California recall election, GOP consultant Ron Nehring said that false fraud allegations in the days before the election — aired on Fox News and promoted by Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate in the race — probably persuaded many of the party's voters to stay home.

"We can't have an evidence-based party if we are bulls---ing people in advance that this election was stolen when it was not," Nehring said Wednesday. "One way not to have Republicans win is by telling Republican voters that their votes don't matter. ... Lying to Republicans claiming an election was stolen, before a single vote or result had been published, is grossly irresponsible."

Democrats have a huge advantage in California, of course, and Gov. Gavin Newsom's margin of victory was so large that he would've won even if a few more Republicans had cast a vote. But we've seen this story before, and not so long ago: Democrats control the U.S. Senate because they won two runoff elections in Georgia in January — and they won those elections, in part, because Donald Trump was blaring lies about voter fraud in the state in a failed effort to reverse his own election loss. As Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) noted afterward, "It turns out that telling the voters that the election was rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters." 

The GOP has spent much of 2021 embracing Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was stolen, writing up new laws in states like Texas and Georgia seemingly designed to make it more difficult for Democratic constituencies to vote. We've yet to see how those new laws will actually play out. In the meantime, though, it sure seems that by routinely crying "fraud" at the polls, Republicans have succeeded mainly in suppressing their own voters.