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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Suggestions for Anyone Lobbying GOP Electors to Vote for Kasich

Yesterday, I started hearing about a new wrinkle in the various attempts to dissuade Republican electors from voting for Donald Trump on December 19, 2016. Apparently some Democratic electors are hoping to recruit GOP electors in a joint effort to vote for John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio and erstwhile candidate for President.

To the extent I belong to any party, I am a libertarian Republican. (I ran for judge in 2014 in an election that, per state law, was nominally partisan, and ran as a Republican.) I know many Republicans, and follow many more on social media. So I have some possibly useful insights into what might make some slight impression (in a favorable sense) on Republican electors, and what would be counterproductive.

A key fact that anyone with hopes of influencing electors needs to know: electors are not neutrals who vote Republican or Democratic based on a state's election results. Electors are typically party stalwarts, experienced party officials. If the Republican presidential candidate wins a state (or, in a very few cases, a congressional district), these reliable Republican electors cast their votes for president in December. If the Democratic candidate prevails, the similar Democratic electors step up to bat. Persuading an elector to vote for the other party's candidate is a Herculean task, even when the elector's party's candidate is as atypical as Donald Trump (or as unpopular as Hillary Clinton).

That said, here are some suggestions for anyone desperate enough to try.

First, keep in mind that most Republicans do not entirely accept the portrait of Trump painted by most media and by the Democratic party. Any appeal based on the assumption that Trump is a neo-Nazi, a white supremacist, a twenty-first century Hitler, or a homophobe will quickly alienate Republican electors. More plausible concerns, from a GOP point of view, include his dubious impulse control, his arguably narcissistic personality, his occasional demagogic promises, his apparent shallow understanding of some political matters, his frequent changes of direction, and his treatment of women in general as available commodities. (Re that last, take care not to paint him as a sexist in the sense of someone who refuses to take women seriously as intelligent and capable in the workplace. His history indicates otherwise.)

Second, do not aim for the moon. A vote for Kasinich, with the goal of sending the election to the House of Representatives in January, is -- however unlikely it may be -- more palatable to any wavering Republican than a vote for Hillary Clinton. Most Republicans hold views of Hillary Clinton that would shock anyone who has spent the last year or more in a liberal or left-wing bubble.

Third, do not vent or call names. This should be obvious, but given the passionate intensity of so much opposition to Trump, the temptation will be strong. A corollary: do not, whatever you do, say anything that could be taken as a threat. If you threaten them, Republicans will immediate class you with the paid agitators who disrupted Trump campaign events and the thugs who have physically assaulted Trump supporters since the election. (Even if you don't believe these things occurred, be assured that most Republicans do.) The quickest way to drive a GOP elector further into the metaphorical arms of Trump is to act like a bully. (Your view that Trump is the quintessential bully is, as to this point, irrelevant.)

Finally, be polite. Be especially polite if you are able to, and do, contact electors individually rather than through open letters or the like. Republicans value good manners.

The odds of persuading thirty-seven Republican electors (the necessary number to bring Trump's total below the required 270) to vote for anyone other than Trump are awfully small. But if you want to do anything but reduce them further, I would, for what it's worth, suggest keeping these points in mind.

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