Yesterday we asked the traditional question of pollsters for a presidential election: “Is our country on the right track or wrong track?” Nearly three out of four Post readers voted for "wrong track."
That is certainly not surprising and matches national polls. It does not indicate who someone is voting for but has been very indicative over the years as a predictor of the incumbent's chances of re-election. It does show what an uphill climb that Donald Trump has in front of him.
Today's election poll question was going to be about whether you are better off. That will be saved for tomorrow now because President Trump threw us another curveball, which is something he is good at.
For you baseball fans out there, I think if Trump had played for the Indians, he would have been Gaylord Perry. You never knew what direction that guy's pitches were going to go!
Trump's curveball was working good when he tweeted out:
"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
With the coronavirus raging, a lot of people will be afraid to vote in person. Many states (Democratic ones in particular) are planning to mail ballots to everyone due to health concerns. Trump has been expressing cynicism about potential fraud in mail voting, but it is the first time he threw delaying the election out there.
Naturally, a lot of people are up in arms about it – even many Republicans in Congress. Our leadoff columnist, Jonah Goldberg, theorizes that Trump was pulling what I would call a "Gaylord Perry." You know, throwing up a grease-slicked curveball, aka the "slurve." Goldberg thinks Trump was just trying to change the subject on a weekend when horrendous economic numbers were being reported.
A just-released Yahoo News/YouGuv poll showed that most Americans already believe that President Trump will not accept the results of November’s election if he loses. A majority of Trump voters also say they will refuse to accept a narrow loss if mail-in ballots contribute to Biden’s victory.
The survey was conducted July 28 to 30, mostly before Trump’s tweet, so distrust of the mail balloting may grow higher.
In the midst of the pandemic, many states have understandably expanded their mail-in balloting systems to limit dangerous crowding. So it may shock many of you that I actually see some of Trump's points on the mail-in ballots.
He is making a distinction between just mass mailing ballots out there in bulk versus using absentee ballots. Absentee ballots have to be requested, so they are much more verifiable than mass-mailed ballots would be.
I have never been liberal-minded on voting privileges, and have written many times over the years about preferring a very orderly process where people have to register and vote in person. Print the ballots and hand count and save them.
This year, that will obviously be hard to do, unless the pandemic suddenly just "magically disappears." That's not going to happen, unless we start over and do a lockdown again, and that doesn't seem likely. We will certainly have to make some adjustments to our voting procedures, but I think that we should be very careful with the mail-in systems we use.
Goldberg, by the way, thinks Trump's tweet will backfire, because of how strong a suspicion will be raised. Columnists from everywhere – ours included – are blasting the tweet. George Will's column today is about what a calamity delaying the election would be. He thinks we should do anything we can to keep that from happening.
I agree that delaying the election would set a very bad precedent. Surely we don't want to do that. But having a lot of voter distrust of the results would be even worse, so in the best interests of the country I hope that we rethink the mail-in procedures that are going to be used.
Will recommends, for instance, that states should immediately stipulate that mailed ballots must be postmarked five days before Election Day, so that counting can be completed by that evening. That would be a start, as would making sure that ballots only got in the hands of registered, citizen voters. Preferably those who are not dead.
The Post Daily Reader Poll for Saturday asks "Do you think the Nov. 3 presidential election should be delayed due to the virus?"