There’s a political tactic called “inoculation” that came into mainstream parlance in the Bill Clinton era—it’s a kind of pre-emptive strike designed to protect against expected attacks and allegations.
Going down to the wire to Election Day on Nov. 8, Texas Democrats have begun an inoculation strategy, deploying their strongest resource, the Texas press, to help blunt the reprisals that are sure to come when Texas voters once again reject their woke, left-leaning candidates.
Texas Democrats never reflect on what they did wrong when they lose. They never ask why Texans don’t vote for their big spending, anti-business, teacher-union backed, anti-fossil fuel candidates. Instead, many of them, particularly those in the media, will insist without evidence that Democrats were defeated by “voter suppression.” They will ignore the fact that 85% of Texans, including a majority of Democrats, support election accountability reforms.
We know there will be long, post-election analyses explaining that the deck is stacked against Democrats—because they have been delivering the same message since 2011 when photo voter ID passed. The media provides the groundwork for them to make these outrageous claims.
This year, after the primary election in March, Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune claimed that voter suppression was responsible for the fewer than 1% of mail-in ballots that may have been rejected because new reforms require those who vote by mail to have the same identification as those who vote in person. Most voters who had problems corrected their mail-in ballots or voted in-person.
There was a drop in mail-in ballots in March, but not because Democrat votes were being “suppressed.” About the same number of Democrats cast their ballots by mail in the 2022 primary as did in the last gubernatorial election in 2018, but in the largest 15 counties, Republicans who had voted by mail in the past decided to vote in person—a 40% drop.
It was no surprise to hear Ramsey echo President Joe Biden, who called election accountability reforms “Jim Crow 2.0” and likened Republican reformers to southern segregationists and even Jefferson Davis.
The Houston Chronicle won a Pulitzer Prize for making the same allegation, insisting that Texas politics has been rooted in racism and voter suppression since Reconstruction. Its award winning editorial claims:
“[Election] Integrity is no more the goal for them [Texas Republican leadership] than it was for the white primary associations of the 1900s. Only today’s voter fraud warriors have laser pointers.”
Despite the Houston Chronicle’s big award, no serious evidence of voter suppression has emerged. States that have passed reforms, most notably Texas and Georgia, have seen voter turnout dramatically increase. Turnout in Texas increased 40% in the 2020 presidential election and 76% in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
Biden spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre recently waived away that data saying bluntly that increased voter turnout and voter suppression can happen at the same time. That is roughly equivalent to saying the sky is green.
During the 2020 election, a left-leaning group called the Election Protection Coalition reported 267 reports of voter intimidation in Texas but even they admit what their study reveals—almost all of those reports were in response to campaign rallies, not instances of people actually being prevented from voting.
Where are the victims of the election accountability reforms? A Texas Association of Business poll conducted during the 2021 legislative session found that fully 95% of Texans say it is easy to vote in this state. That’s Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—virtually everybody. Among the reforms in 2021, the two-week early voting period, one of the longest in the country, was extended to include more hours.
On October 20—two and a half weeks before the election, the liberal Brennan Center issued a big flashy report boldly proclaiming Massive Disenfranchisement and Racial Disparities in Texas giving the Texas press a hook to follow up with more matter-of-fact stories of voter suppression they insist are happening in Texas. Again, no victims emerge.
The Houston’s Chronicle’s Pulitzer Prize winning insistence that if it weren’t for voter suppression, Texas would be a Democrat state seems out of touch with reality. Still, you can expect to hear cries of “voter suppression” coming from Texas media analysts on Election Night—because press coverage of things like the Brennan Center report have teed it up for them. That’s how inoculation works.
A poll this fall from the University of Texas at Tyler and the Dallas Morning News found that fewer than 20% of Texans get their political news from the Texas media. This is why.