The Corner


Election War-Gaming Jumps the Shark

“I Voted Today” stickers at the Democratic primary in Philadelphia, Pa., June 2, 2020. (Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters)

I have no idea what fresh misery is going to unfold if the election is close. I am pretty sure, however, that we can’t learn anything of value from the “simulations” that have preoccupied the media for the past week.

For example, last Thursday brought us this gem from the Washington Post, regarding exercises run by the Transition Integrity Project:

For obvious reasons, we couldn’t ask Trump or Biden — or their campaign aides — to play themselves in these exercises, so we did the next best thing: We recruited participants with similar backgrounds. On the GOP side, our “players” included former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, conservative commentator Bill Kristol and former Kentucky secretary of state Trey Grayson. . . .

In each scenario, Team Trump — the players assigned to simulate the Trump campaign and its elected and appointed allies — was ruthless and unconstrained right out of the gate, and Team Biden struggled to get out of reaction mode. In one exercise, for instance, Team Trump’s repeated allegations of fraudulent mail-in ballots led National Guard troop to destroy thousands of ballots in Democratic-leaning ZIP codes, to applause on social media from Trump supporters. Over and over, Team Biden urged calm, national unity and a fair vote count, while Team Trump issued barely disguised calls for violence and intimidation against ballot-counting officials and Biden electors.

Steele and Kristol are both vocal anti-Trump conservatives. And when they were asked to act the way Trump would act, they acted like cartoon villains? You don’t say. (And as Jim Geraghty pointed out, the National Guard confiscating ballots is a particularly ridiculous cherry on top.)

Today brings a Daily Beast story about the Left prepping for doomsday unless Biden wins in a landslide, complete with some more details on the Transition Integrity Project’s war-gaming:

But the Transition Integrity Project noted that there would be immense pressure on Biden to fight it out if, for the third time in 20 years, the Democratic candidate won the popular vote but didn’t take office. In a simulation they ran, Team Biden “encouraged Western states, particularly California but also Oregon and Washington, and collectively known as ‘Cascadia,’ to secede from the Union” unless structural reforms were made. In exchange for Trump getting the presidency, for instance, Republicans would need to agree to abolish the Electoral College, give Puerto Rico and D.C. statehood, and divide California into five states for better Senate representation.

Uh . . . okay. I’ll just note that this is a whole lot to ask for a single presidential term.


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