It appears that Donald Trump and his campaign are well aware they are losing. Joshua Green wrote a great article that explores the future of the “Trump machine” and it’s eventual Trump TV network incarnation. He wrote it from inside the campaign, with unprecedented access — but the headline missed the big story. Even though they know they are losing, the Trump campaign is not going gently into that good night. However, they are not trying to win new voters. Rather, they are targeting three specific groups for suppression: young women, idealistic white liberals, and African Americans.
Trump’s campaign, like the man, can’t help but show off, and they did with “Project Alamo.” Strategy, polling, ads, fundraising and secret data ops, all designed to help him win by suppressing voters too informed to vote for him. It’s not shocking, but it is in black and white now — Trump can’t sell Trump so he is trying to silence the opposition.
“We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans. Trump’s invocation at the debate of Clinton’s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters. The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women. And her 1996 suggestion that some African American males are “super predators” is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls—particularly in Florida.
This has long been an assumption, almost a subtext of the Republican establishment. They don’t have the actual numbers to win because there are more liberals than conservatives in the country, so it has long been assumed that they concentrate on suppression while claiming they are selling their candidate on merits. Perhaps running a candidate with few measurable merits (even to conservatives) has pushed that into the light. Or it could be simply that Trump wouldn’t know “subtle” if it gently slapped him in the orange mug with an I-beam made from Chinese steel.
Steve Bannon, the former head of the alt-right propaganda site Breitbart.com, is in charge of the operation designed to simply cause voters Trump can’t win (because he is a horrible choice for them) to not cast a ballot. They could have focused on “mobilizing the 47 million eligible white voters without college degrees who are Trump’s most obvious source of new votes,” but they didn’t.
Instead, they are running a dirty and secretive campaign where “only the people [the Trump campaign] wants to see it, see it”. This particular piece of the scheme is targeted specifically at silencing the African American vote, especially in the crucial battleground state of Florida:
On Oct. 24, Trump’s team began placing spots on select African American radio stations. In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook “dark posts”—nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as Parscale puts it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.” The aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total. “We know because we’ve modeled this,” says the official. “It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.”
The absolute narcissism in this plan may just backfire, though. Like most things, Trump is doing this without a lot of research because he is speaking to “his opponents.” The idea that African Americans can’t see a person changing over twenty years is pretty ludicrous. And that young women are stupid enough to blame a woman for her husband’s affairs in 2016 is also pretty outdated. But, they are trying to work backwards, completely, without even a nod at earning more votes for Trump.
However, the very important takeaway here is this: Trump knows he is losing. His campaign knows he is losing. Everyone knows he is losing. But Trump talks constantly about how he is winning. That “winning,” if his voter suppression plans are any indication, resembles nothing more than tripping his opponent at the last minute after hiding near the finish line.
But having egotistically tipped his hand here, Trump may just have given Hillary Clinton the rallying force she needs to mobilize an even larger segment of voters.
Keep up the good work, Donald!