A fake Southern accent wasn’t Hillary Clinton’s only affectation this weekend. The Washington Post’s fact-checkers called Hillary’s claims of voter suppression in 2016 and 2018 “way off-base,” awarding her the maximum four Pinocchios for her speech at the annual Selma March commemoration on Sunday. Among other notably bad arguments, Clinton claimed that a Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act cost her Wisconsin three years earlier:
“I was the first person who ran for president without the protection of the Voting Rights Act, and I will tell you, it makes a really big difference. And it doesn’t just make a difference in Alabama and Georgia; it made a difference in Wisconsin, where the best studies that have been done said somewhere between 40 [thousand] and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls because of the color of their skin, because of their age, because of whatever excuse could be made up to stop a fellow American citizen from voting.” …
“Just think about it: Between 2012, the prior presidential election where we still had the Voting Rights Act, and 2016, when my name was on the ballot, there were fewer voters registered in Georgia than there had been those prior four years.”
Almost every part of these claims is either laughably wrong or lacking any evidentiary support whatsoever, as Salvador Rizzo explains at length. First off, any attorney — heck, anyone who can read — knows that the Voting Rights Act remains in force even after Shelby County v Holder for all states. The only part struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 was Section 4, which provided for enhanced federal supervision over voting laws and regulations in states that had traditionally infringed on minority voting rights.
As Rizzo points out, and as anyone who bothered to inform themselves on Shelby County would know, Section 4 never applied to Wisconsin at all, although it did to Alabama and Georgia. And as for Georgia’s voter registration levels …
Wisconsin was not one of the states covered by Section 4 when the court ruled in 2013, so, right off the bat, Clinton’s claim that this “made a difference in Wisconsin” is unfounded. Georgia was covered by Section 4, but Clinton’s claim that total voter registration declined in that state from 2012 to 2016 is false; it increased.
But what about the “best studies” that showed voter-ID deterring up to 80,000 Wisconsin voters? That claim was based on a study done in two counties with a sample of fewer than 300 voters. The study’s authors warned readers not to extrapolate their findings statewide, but that fell on deaf ears. It also ignores an inconvenient fact for Hillary, which is that she didn’t generate much enthusiasm among African-American voters anywhere, in states with or without voter-ID laws:
Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California at Irvine, noted that black voters in Milwaukee, which experienced a dramatic decline in turnout in 2016, were not motivated by Clinton the same way they were for President Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012. Moreover, there was a general decline in the black vote in 2016, compared with 2008 or 2012, both in states that had voter ID laws and states that did not.
Nor was this phenomenon limited to black voters. Four months ago, I noted in a column at The Week that Donald Trump didn’t win the blue-wall states as much as Hillary lost them. This wasn’t a voter-ID issue — it was a candidate-ID issue:
In 2016, Clinton won 1.37 million Minnesota votes. Barack Obama had won 1.55 million four years earlier. Trump only added 2,000 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 total, hardly much motion at all. But that was enough for Trump to come closer than any Republican since Ronald Reagan to winning the state. However, he did it by standing still as Clinton underperformed. When Democrats show up to vote, Minnesota reverts back to its blue-state identity.
The same formula holds in the other three “blue wall” states. In Wisconsin, both Clinton (-238,000) and Trump (-5,000) underperfomed 2012’s results. Clinton dropped almost 300,000 votes from Obama’s 2012 performance in Michigan, which produced 131,000 fewer votes between the two major-party candidates than in the previous cycle. Pennsylvania is alone in having a higher combined 2016 vote total over 2012, but Clinton still came up short of Obama’s performance in the earlier cycle by 64,000 votes — and lost the state by 44,000.
With all this in mind, Hillary’s performance on Sunday in Selma seems particularly … scummy. In trying to evade responsibility for being a terrible candidate, Hillary tried to wrap herself in the mantle of voting-rights victimhood at an event that commemorates people who took real risks and stood up against real discrimination. In this context, Rizzo’s summation is rather gentle:
There’s an important debate to be had over voter ID laws and their effect on turnout, considering how rare voter fraud cases are in the United States and the risk of disenfranchisement. We’re looking at something different here. Clinton made a series of specific claims that were way off-base.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 had no bearing on Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Madison study she relied on for her 40,000 estimate says its findings from two counties should not be extrapolated to form statewide conclusions. Her spokesman did not cite any study for the 80,000 estimate. Voter registration in Georgia did not decline from 2012 to 2016.
Wrong on multiple levels, seriously misleading, and worth a cumulative Four Pinocchios.
Wrong on multiple levels indeed.