I know I might be a little late to the party on this one, but the issue of a “red mirage” happening in 2020 is important and I finally have the time needed to really address it. Better late than never, as they say.
For those who don’t know a “red mirage” is a term used to describe how mail in voting might swing this election. The idea is when only in prison ballots are counted, it will appear that Donald Trump has won re-election. However, after all the mail in ballots are counted, it could be so much that it swings the election in favor of Joe Biden.
Some are worried this means mail in voting is just going to be rampant voter fraud (odd they’d tell us that), however, the evidence on that is still quite weak. Starting with the fact that a “red mirage” is actually fairly unlikely to happen in the first place.
Awhile back, John Oliver did a segment on mail in voting during an episode of Last Week Tonight. In it, he spotlights Alabama as having the worst protections for mail in voting, however, Alabama is a consistently red state meaning even if they did allow mail in voting, it’s unlikely this would change anything but how big of a landslide Trump wins it by. This is, after all, a state that has not voted for a single Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Texas is another state brought up for having strict requirements for voting by mail, and like Alabama they have not voted Democrat since 1976.
Here was my prediction from the start as to what’s going to happen with the entire vote by mail controversy:
- States that are going to vote Democrat anyway are going to implement it
- States that are going to vote Republican anyway aren’t going to implement it
- Roughly half of all swing states will implement it
This is the thing many people do not seem to realize, the states with requirements that suppress voter turnout — states with Voter ID laws, for example — only got those laws by voting Republican in the first place. It’s not hard to imagine that, even without these laws, people would still be voting Republican (or at least, voting conservative since some of these laws date back to the days of the Dixiecrats) regardless of what laws might get in their way.
With that in mind, a “red mirage” is very unlikely to happen.
With that said, I should also note that if one does, changing vote totals are not uncommon. Al Franken pointed out in his memoir Giant Of The Senate that in 2006, Amy Klobuchar got over 100,000 votes during the state mandated recount. Nobody took notice, however, because she had already won the election before the recount by 200,000 votes.
Recounts and increased totals are very common during elections. Back in 2016, it took us until around the end of November to know the exact results of the Presidential Election. However, most people did not notice this, because none of the recounts (even in spite of the efforts from the Hillary team) actually changed the election results. The only times you hear about recounts is when they could flip an election, like Florida in 2000 or Minnesota in 2008.
This is what bothers me about conversation around this “red mirage.” The fact that people keep pretending this is evidence of some cruel plan by Democrats to steal the election — by engaging in perfectly normal election procedure.
Of course, all of this could be avoided if our networks follow one rule: They do not call states until the majority of votes, vote by mail included, are counted. If a “red mirage” takes place, I have no doubt it will be caused by the media, and not by the election itself or anything of the like.