It’s already evident that Trump is capable of dramatically reshaping voter behavior. His constant disinformation about unreliability of mail-in ballots caused a huge partisan gap in mail-in ballots vs. in-person voting, sometimes reversing historical trends. Furthermore, some political analysts believe that Trump’s constant messaging in the wake of 2020 voting about the election being rigged may have contributed to the loss of both Republican incumbents in Georgia’s senate runoff races in January by causing Republicans to grow mistrustful of the electoral system or implying voting was pointless.
In the short term, Trump likely sees this threat as a way to extract even greater obedience from the GOP establishment — and potentially ward off 2024 challengers. But it’s a shortsighted approach, to put it lightly.
Should Trump choose to engage in months or years of threatening a boycott, he could indeed persuade some of his base to check out of electoral politics altogether and spend their political energy in other arenas (arenas that should worry us, given Trump’s narrative on Jan. 6). And even if Trump were to backtrack eventually, he might not be able to reverse all the damage he’s caused.