Friday, October 28, 2016

Not "voter suppression" but still pretty dumb

Yesterday, a Bloomberg article made a splash because it quoted an official in the Trump campaign bragging that they had "three major voter suppression operations underway." This generated a flurry of articles hyping the fact that the Trump campaign admitted it was trying to suppress the vote. If you read past the headlines, the details of what those "voter suppression" meant turned out to be just publicizing stories that might discourage people in a particular demographics in the Clinton coalition from voting. In other words, the Trump campaign was not talking about actual voter suppression. Voter suppression is when you obstruct people's ability to vote when they want to vote. The the Trump official quoted in the Bloomberg article was just talking about trying to demoralize the core voters of their opponent, which is just a part of a political campaign. Real voter suppression denies someone their right to vote, it is not about persuading potential voters that they should not have faith in their candidate.

So while what the Trump campaign actually said was not as bad as the headlines might have suggested, we still learn two things from this: (1) a senior official in the Trump campaign doesn't know what the term "voter suppression" refers to, and (2) that senior official is so dumb he actually thought it was a good idea to brag about "voter suppression" to a reporter.