Republicans have a post-election epiphany on mail voting

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As Republicans come to terms with their lackluster midterm performance, top GOP officials and conservative luminaries are acknowledging voters were led astray with calls to reject early and absentee voting.

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They’re just not naming the leading figure who helped get them there.

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“Our voters need to vote early. There were many in 2020 saying, don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early, and we have to stop that, and understand that if Democrats are getting ballots in for a month, we can’t expect to get it all done in one day,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel warned on Fox News.

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McDaniel did not mention former president Donald Trump, who has railed against early, absentee, and mail-in voting for years and falsely claimed the methods led to widespread voter fraud that cost him the election. And a spokesperson said her comments were not targeted at the former president.

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But, privately, Republican operatives concede that Trump has put their party in an electoral pinch and that the problems extend beyond voting methods.

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“We can sit here and talk about mail-in voting and use that as an excuse but that’s like an alcoholic saying they’re not going to drink gin anymore, just beer,” said one top GOP campaign official. “We have 99 problems and mail-in voting is one.”

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There is a growing sense of alarm among the GOP ranks that the conspiracy theories Trump pushed about early voting and mail ballots not only hurt them dearly in the just completed midterms, but could take multiple cycles to remedy. 

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Republican committees and groups have been working to educate voters on laws regarding early voting and are planning to ramp up those efforts. 

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But they are up against not only Trump and his outsized megaphone but also a sizable swath of conservative leaders who now falsely state early voting and mail ballots are tainted.

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