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Will the pandemic have partisan effects on voter turnout?

1 minute read

Election forecasts will probably err systematically in some way, given the unique shock of the pandemic. But in which direction might the forecasts err?

I see a few possibilities.

Trump voters are likely more passionate voters (many Biden voters see him as a necessary evil). Learning about mail-ins and state laws can be pretty annoying. So maybe at some margin, Biden voters don’t bother.

On the other hand, if Biden voters are a bit higher-IQ on average, it’s possible they may be more likely to navigate state policies and mailing-in.

Yet if higher-IQ Biden voters are more fully adapted to digital life, mailing-in could be more annoying. I’m so fully digital that when I need to snail-mail something, I feel retarded and I procrastinate like crazy (avoidance behavior).

So it’s possible the average Trump voter is more accustomed to snail-mail. This might seem like a minor point, but seriously, when I have to snail-mail things, it feels like a 10-step task I’ve never done before. I have to Google, like, how stamps work.

I also wonder if Biden’s relatively high standing in the forecasts right now (72% vs Trumps 28%) interacts with both pandemic voting confusion and Biden’s enthusiasm deficit. In short: “He’s already going to win and I’m not that fired up, so I’m done Googling how stamps work.”

Finally, Trump voters are probably less worried about in-person voting. So Trump voters may be more likely to turn out in person.

These points make me wonder if the pandemic may ultimately favor Trump, but I’m sure I haven’t exhausted the matter. What do you think?

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