Both the Donald Trump campaign and the Hillary Clinton campaign claim that each side is “suppressing” each other’s vote. Trump has been saying all week that the media are using discouraging polls to “suppress” — i.e. discourage — his voters.
Now Clinton supporters are citing an unnamed Trump official who actually used the word “suppression” to describe the effect of negative news stories circulated on social media and aimed at “idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans” who might otherwise vote for the Democratic nominee.
The truth is that the term “suppression” is not necessarily nefarious. Here is a report on the New Hampshire primary, about how bad weather could “suppress” Trump’s voters:
Bush is hoping that history will say he took on the forces of populism honestly and angrily and won. If the terrible weather in New Hampshire suppresses the Trump vote then the media spin might be that we’ve seen the real ceiling of The Donald’s support. Don’t be surprised if Trump wins but polls below 30 per cent.
Other kinds of “suppression” are less benign. Both campaigns run active voter suppression campaigns. Clinton allies telling Jewish voters that Trump is Hitler, for example, is classic suppression (and there is evidence that it is working).
There is also “reverse suppression.” Telling black voters that voter ID is an attempt to suppress them, for example, is a tactic that President Barack Obama and other Democrats have used to encourage black voters to go to the polls (even though polls suggest most black voters actually approve of voter ID laws).
And then there is the opposite tactic, which is to scare voters into heading to the polls by telling them that they will face some kind of sanction if they do not vote. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was unapologetic about mailers his campaigns used in Iowa that reminded voters their participation in primaries was a matter of public record. Democrats sent a similar mailer in 2014.
The latest hubbub fits both categories. A Trump official tells a journalist about voter suppression plans; the Clinton-friendly media pretends it is more nefarious than it is.
Welcome to kitchen-sink season.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.