As Donald Trump continues to spin conspiracy theories about a “rigged” election, the top minds at work in his campaign war room know they’re losing badly, but they have one last, insidious trick up their sleeves.
“We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” an unnamed senior Trump aide told Bloomberg Businessweek in the magazine’s new cover story on the campaign’s prolonged death.
The aide was referring to a coordinated effort to dampen Hillary Clinton’s support among three key demographics for her to win big on November 8: African Americans, young women, and idealistic white liberals.
So far, those efforts have taken the form of “dark posts” on social media–nonpublic messages where the audience is tightly controlled and ads on African American radio stations playing up Clinton’s decade-old remarks about “super predators.” Bloomberg reported Team Trump is also betting that young women will want to stay home from the polls if they bring up the Clinton Foundation’s controversial operations in Haiti.
But the top staffer’s moment of clarity also feels like one last crowning achievement for Trump’s campaign, which has made an art form of constantly saying the quiet part loud. Voter suppression–which traditionally involves tactics like requiring photo ID to vote or purging the voter roles–is alive and well and is even protected by state law. Trump’s campaign just offered an accidental reminder of how well-ingrained the idea of discouraging people to vote has become.