8 anti-democratic strategies Republicans use to stay in power as their voter base shrinks

  • 02/24/2020 11:24 am ET Amy Penn
The 2020 election may experience a surge of voting with 4 million 17 year olds turning 18 prior to the election

Source: Screenshot/Time

In the last two decades, two Republican presidents have won their way to the White House despite having lost the popular vote.

So how does the GOP continue to win elections with an ever-shrinking voter base?

They are employing these eight tactics to stay in power.

1. Voter Suppression

Voters winning in NC with new congressional maps and a lawsuit to restore early voting

Source: Screenshot/Charlotte Observer

In 2010, after Obama suffered a mid-term “shellacking” and the Republicans won the nationwide popular vote for the House of Representatives for the first time since 2006, 24 states implemented new voting rules.

These new rules included photo ID laws, shuttering polling places, and purging people from voting rolls (80% of the people purged just so happened to be people of color.) Indeed, red states have shuttered 1,200 polling places since the Supreme Court gutted voting rights in 2013.

Now, Trump and the Republican National Committee are at it again. They have announced plans to pump over $10 million into restricting voting rights ahead of the 2020 polls.

2. Gerrymandering

Missouri voter ID law requiring false statement struck down by State Supreme Court 4

Source: Unsplash

The goal of gerrymandering is to simply manipulate the boundaries of voting districts so that the party in power can win as many seats as possible.

An Associated Press analysis observed that when it comes to gerrymandering, again, the Republicans had the edge.

In Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania—states that determine the presidential winners—Republicans had drawn the district lines during the last Census of 2010.

Even a report by Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law supported AP’s claim that these new districts were not just messing up the nation’s maps but were actually posing “a threat to democracy.”

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court can’t intervene.

In 2019, the Conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering was a political query and it was for the individual states, and not for federal courts, to judge if it was unconstitutional.

And this is how gerrymandering works from coolguides

3. Campaign finance loopholes

Trump Pence McConnell Oval Office Thumb's Up

Source: Flickr/The White House

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections brought several campaign finance loopholes to the spotlight.

Some of those issues included determining whether stolen emails as “opposition research” were relevant grounds to prohibit foreign donors and highlighting Russian social media ads that meddled in the 2016 elections.

According to The Atlantic, in the past 13 years alone, Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts’s Court has quashed vital campaign-finance laws. He killed things like putting limits on corporate independent spending and how much the rich can contribute. Roberts claimed that political spending is a form of expression that’s protected by the First Amendment.

In fact, several Trump-supported Republican senators have made use of a loophole that allows them to exceed contributions in the name of “debt retirement” when they’ve already donated the maximum amount possible — essentially, “a legal form of money-laundering.

4. Non-proportional representation

Democracy Now Protestors

Source: Flickr/Paul Graham Morris

Due to a skewed political system that has a bias against Democrats, no matter how big the population, every U.S. state gets two senators.

Steven Mulroy, a Professor of Law at the University of Memphis argues that,

“A Wyoming resident’s vote counts 60 times more than a Californian’s, since California has 60 times the population of Wyoming yet still has the same representation. This bolsters the influence of sparsely populated rural states, skewing the Senate rightward.”

By 2040, a large share of America — two-thirds — will be represented by only 30 percent of the senators.

You could call that disproportionate.

5. Blocking automatic voter registration

Voter Registration Election

Source: Flickr/NatalieMaynor

Automatic Voter Registration makes voting easier.

In states that have implemented it, it has led to a big voter turnout according to a 2019 study by the Brennan Center for Justice.  Georgia saw the greatest increase at 93.7%.

The Democrat-majority House of Representatives passed a bill requiring an overhaul of polling rules, which the GOP opposed.

“Moscow” Mitch wrote in The Post, “Their proposal is simply a naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party. It should be called the Democrat Politician Protection Act.”

But as Paul Waldman, an opinion writer for the Washington Post observes,

“What McConnell is saying is that if our voting system were more efficient, more open and more fair, then the inevitable result would be fewer Republicans winning elections. In other words, Republican success depends on the system working in ways that restrict access to the ballot. If registration were easier and more people who are not registered now did so, that would mean Republicans would lose more elections.”

6. Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico are not politically represented

Washington DC Taxation Representation

Source: Flickr/Alex Guerrero

The GOP’s official position on paper is to “support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state.”

However, in a 2019 Fox News interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called giving representation to four million, tax-paying Americans in D.C. and Puerto Rico “full-bore socialism.”

A Vox report observes that neither of these places stands a chance for statehood.

“Even if the House passes a statehood bill, it faces certain death in the Senate, where the Republican majority is adamantly opposed to adding a state where only 4 percent of voters supported Donald Trump in 2016. Democrats view DC statehood as a way to rebalance a Senate and Electoral College that have stymied progressive priorities, and Republicans oppose the idea for that very reason.”

So, what happens when a district has no political representation? The cost was pretty clear when Puerto Rico got negligible help after 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

7. They are anti-union

‘Look what I’ve done for steel,’ brags Trump, as 1,500 steel workers lose their jobs 1

Source: Screenshot/United Steelworkers

In states with anti-union, right-to-work laws, a study found that votes for Dems dropped by 3.5%.

A commentary in Mother Jones observed that, with that many extra votes, Democrats would have easily won every election since 1992.  The report also notes that the GOP is vehemently against unions which continue to fight to prevent the growing income gap between the wealthy and the working class.,

“Without someone to fight for them, workers will keep losing income to the rich. As union membership declines, so does the working-class income share. And as the working-class income share declines, the top 1% income share goes up by almost exactly the same amount. It’s a vicious circle: the rich get richer and Republicans get to keep winning elections.”

8. Electoral College

Source: Wikimedia

What do Donald Trump and George W. Bush have in common?

Both of them have triumphed their way into the White House after losing the popular vote to their Democratic counterparts.

This, as it turns out, is not by chance, and is because of an inbuilt trump card (pun intended.) Putting aside the fact that the electoral college has “deep roots in efforts by the founders to accommodate slavery,” it also helps candidates win the Oval Office even if it goes against what the majority of voters want.

According to a 2019 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research this is because of “inversions.” Even if GOP candidates lost the popular vote, they would still win the bulk (nearly 65%) of close presidential races in the future.

It concluded that this phenomenon would likely occur in 2020 and beyond unless “a policy change completely dissolves, rather than reforms, the Electoral College.”

You May Also Like:

Back To Front Page