Donald Trump has relished making mail-in voting a boogeyman during the coronavirus pandemic, denouncing the method routinely as part of his longstanding and evidence-free crusade over alleged voter fraud.
But that was before he realized how much Republican voters had started to listen to him. Now, with his re-election chances on line, the president is embracing the practice in the crucial swing state of Florida.
Within the senior ranks of Team Trump’s political and field operations, there have been significant concerns for weeks that the president and GOP’s crusade against voting-by-mail could actually backfire and result in a depression of absentee ballots cast for Trump come Election Day, according to three people familiar with the matter. However, all of these sources said that this growing concern has not convinced top advisers in the president’s vast reelection machine to actually stop this election’s legal, rhetorical, and advertising war—backed by tens of millions of dollars on the right—on mail-in voting during the pandemic. Instead, it has merely intensified their internal urgency to find new, broader ways to create a distinction between absentee and mail-in voting, even though functionally they are the same thing. Key to their argument, they say, is the increase in volume would lead to delays creating a national version of the bungled New York City election.