In a 2021 Time article titled ‘The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election,’ author Molly Ball described how a ‘Well-Funded Cabal’ influenced the 2020 Election, with expectations for what lies ahead in 2024
Republicans will probably have a far tougher climb in the general election than many anticipate, even if former President Donald Trump looks to be coasting toward the GOP nomination with a polling advantage over incumbent President Joe Biden in important swing states.
A coalition of left-wing federal, corporate, financial, and nonprofit organizations, along with fundamental changes to state election laws, has given the Democratic Party advantages that the GOP might not be able to overcome.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) apparatuses had different advantages in the decades preceding 2020: the DNC had troops, while the RNC had funds.
According to information from the World Economic Forum’s annual survey of world leaders, 2024 will be the world’s biggest election year and will have severe geopolitical threats, with extreme weather being the most severe threat.
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Political journalist Sasha Issenberg’s research in the book “The Victory Lab” points out that Republicans were adept at raising money and extensively invested in messages through sponsored radio, television, and internet advertisements. Because its supporters are frequently found in metropolitan areas, the DNC called on its foot soldiers—union leaders and students in particular—to canvass neighborhoods and generate support.
Two occurrences in 2020 changed the landscape: the COVID-19 epidemic and George Floyd’s death while in police custody. There was a narrative that the state’s current voting laws needed to be changed because they were dangerous for public health and discriminatory.
The 2020 ‘Shadow Campaign’
Author Molly Ball described a “well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage, and control the flow of information” in a commendable 2021 Time article titled “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.”
Ms. Ball commended the actors’ efforts but added that they “were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.”
As Ms. Ball put it, the “conspiracy” consisted of Wall Street bankers, tech and social media executives, union leaders, DNC operatives, and a network of nonprofit donor funds that combined to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to fund “armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time.”
The coalition’s primary objective was to prevent President Trump from being reelected, even if its stated mission was to “save democracy.”
Furthermore, it seems that the “well-funded cabal” is preparing for a rerun in 2024 with a few updated elements.
To guarantee that President Trump did not receive a second term back then, as he does not today, the DNC and organizations that support them rely on a five-part plan.
This plan calls for a network of financing vehicles to finance all of it, as well as intense legal pressure on state election officials to relax voter integrity laws, a data nerve center with voter personal profiles to predict voter behavior, a coalition of left-wing foot soldiers to turn out Democratic voters in crucial swing states, and a group of organizations capable of inciting violence and widespread unrest in cities and towns if necessary.
After the “well-funded cabal” was put together, the state’s election regulations needed to be changed as soon as possible.
Rewriting Election Rules
A nationwide campaign of DNC-sponsored lawsuits caused several states—including some with Republican governors—to abandon what had long been conventional voting integrity standards, adhering to the maxim “never let a crisis go to waste.”
“That effort involved voiding basic security protocols on election procedures, including absentee ballots, and pushing for the equivalent of all-mail elections, which would give their activists a free hand in pressuring, coercing, and influencing voters in their homes in ways they are unable to do in polling places,” political analysts John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky wrote in their 2021 book titled “Our Broken Elections.”
“To force these changes, they ended up filing more election-related lawsuits than had ever been filed in an election year in U.S. history,” the authors said.
Among all the electoral chances brought about by the epidemic and civil instability, the introduction of universal, unsolicited mail-in ballots—which remain in use in certain states—was arguably the most alluring.
In 2020, 43 percent of American voters cast ballots by mail, up from 21 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“The flood of millions of mail-in ballots opened the system to unprecedented confusion and largely untraceable fraud,” according to Mr. Fund and Mr. von Spakovsky in their book.
“There’s a reason that a bipartisan commission co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter in 2005 called mail-in absentee ballots the ‘largest source of potential voter fraud’ and that most countries in the European Union have banned ‘postal voting’ over the same concerns,” they wrote.
Election fraud has become a highly politicized matter, with left-wing organizations arguing that it isn’t a serious enough issue to affect election results and conservatives arguing that it is.
A conservative research organization called the Heritage Foundation maintains a database of voting fraud cases that has 1,500 instances and 1,276 felony convictions as of right now. According to the group, at least twelve races have had their election results invalidated as a result of illicit voting.
Though what is shown in the Heritage database “may sound like big numbers, however… the findings encompass more than a decade of data during which, nationally, hundreds of millions of votes have been cast,” according to the left-leaning Brookings Institution
More than 1,000 voters were surveyed in December 2023 by Rasmussen Reports and The Heartland Institute on their voting practices in 2020. Republican and Democratic respondents were equally represented in the poll, and thirty percent of respondents stated they voted by mail.
Twenty-one percent of the respondents who cast mail-in ballots admitted to breaking election laws, whether or not they were aware of it at the time. This involves faking other people’s signatures on votes and filling out ballots for friends and family.
Director of the Heartland Institute Justin Haskins said, “We asked if they voted by mail in a state in which they are no longer a permanent resident, which is voter fraud.” “Yes, said about one in five respondents who cast mail-in ballots for the 2020 election.”
According to the poll, 8% of participants claimed that a friend, relative, or group had offered to compensate or otherwise reward them for casting a ballot in the 2020 election.
The Privatization of State Voting Systems
The story of “voter suppression,” which acquired traction across much of America, benefited the Democratic Party.
Organizing “historically disenfranchised” communities became a “backdoor approach to ginning up Democratic votes outside the campaign finance laws,” Mr. Issenberg wrote. This was because the tax code permitted nonprofit organizations to run registration and turnout drives as long as they did not promote a particular candidate.
The Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), an organization that is ostensibly neutral but is run by Democratic activists, is one example of what Mr. Fund and Mr. von Spakovsky refer to as the “privatization” of state electoral systems by affluent funders.
With the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave CTCL $350 million, supposedly to safeguard election officials’ and voters’ health throughout the pandemic.
According to the authors, these so-called “Zuckerbucks” were distributed by CTCL to 2,500 primarily liberal jurisdictions to fund voter education initiatives, ballot drop boxes, new polling places, and campaigns to reach voters who do not understand English.
In one case, the city of Philadelphia received a $10 million grant from CTCL, even though their whole budget for election administration was $15 million prior to the funding. Nonetheless, the writers noted that CTCL required the money to be used for “private printing and postage for mail-in ballots and to scatter ballot drop boxes.”
“CTCL’s intervention effectively greased the wheels for an unprecedented flood of largely untraceable, potentially fraudulent mail-in ballots submitted via private drop boxes throughout an urban stronghold for the Democratic Party with no official oversight or accountability after the fact,” Mr. Fund and Mr. von Spakovsky stated.
Analysts found that CTCL’s donations were focused in swing states rather than being dispersed equally throughout the nation.
Furthermore, as journalist Mollie Hemingway revealed in her 2021 book “Rigged,” less than 2 percent of CTCL funds were actually used to purchase protective gear related to COVID; the majority of the remaining funds supported left-wing organizations’ initiatives to increase voter turnout, especially in left-leaning districts within swing states.
“The five cities of Wisconsin that received Zuck Bucks outsourced much of their election operation to private liberal groups,” Ms. Hemingway wrote.
“In one case, the private group’s control was so extensive that a government official frustrated at being sidelined by Zuckerberg-funded out-of-state activists quit her job before the election.”
Georgia was one of Zuckerbucks’ main targets; although making up only 3% of the US population, the state received 9% of the funding, according to a Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) analysis. Furthermore, most of Georgia’s CTCL funding went to districts where Biden is the nominee.
“While Zuckerbucks-receiving counties [in Georgia] won by Donald Trump were granted nearly $2.3 million—at a rate of $1.91 per registered voter—Joe Biden counties that received Zuckerbucks were given nearly $29 million, at a far higher rate of $7.13 per registered voter,” the report reads.
“It’s targeted voter registration,” Steward Whitson, FGA legal director, told . “You don’t have to worry about turning out more Republican voters if you focus your efforts in places where the vast majority of voters are going to lean left.”
Pennsylvania was an analogous instance.
“Trump counties [in Pennsylvania] received an average of $0.59 per capita, while Biden counties averaged $2.85 per capita,” per a research published by the Capital Research Center (CRC).
According to the report, Mr. Biden garnered the most “Zuckerbucks” from all five of the counties (Allegheny, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia), which together make up 81 percent ($17,993,405) of all the donations given to Pennsylvania.
“It’s not ‘everybody votes,’” Scott Walter, CRC president, told . “It’s ‘the right people vote in a half dozen states that we really care about so we can seize power in Washington.’”
According to Mr. Fund and Mr. von Spakovsky, while CTCL activities in Arizona increased voter turnout for both parties, they disproportionately benefited Democrat-voting counties.
According to their findings, counties supported by CTCL raised GOP votes by 46% more than Arizona districts that did not receive Zuckerbucks but raised DNC votes by 81%.
Voter Integrity Becomes Politicized
The battle to repeal laws requiring voter identification, confirming the signatures on mail-in ballots, and purging the voter registers of people who have passed away or relocated out of state has increased the possibility of voting fraud, as it already exists.
Even though there isn’t a pandemic in the US right now, analysts claim that massive unwanted mail-in voting is being practiced, especially in crucial swing states.
“Compared to pre-2020 elections, [state] laws are still far less secure in terms of election integrity than they were prior to COVID, and the biggest reason for that is that many states have now adopted plans that allow for widespread mail-in balloting,” Mr. Haskins said.
“Among the swing states, which is really where the election is going to be decided, very little has been done to improve the security of mail-in balloting.
“The reason for this is that in many of those states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, governors are in office who do not support strong election integrity laws, so legislatures have struggled in those states to pass legislation.”
The Democratic governors of the majority of important swing states are Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, and Katie Hobbs of Arizona.
Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are among the 29 states that have enacted legislation prohibiting the contribution of private funds to state election systems since the 2020 election, according to the FGA.
“It’s keeping private funding out of the one part of elections that is supposed to be nonpartisan, and that is election administration,” Mr. Whitson said.
However, the proposal was vetoed by Democratic governors in Michigan and Wisconsin.
In 2023, 14 states passed a total of 17 election laws that the Brennan Center for Justice, an institution of New York University, deemed “restrictive,” while 23 states passed 53 legislation that the Center deemed “expansive.”
Furthermore, party lines frequently emerged in the struggle between states over whether to strengthen or weaken their election integrity legislation.
“Virginia has recently fluctuated between enacting restrictive and expansive policies depending on which party has been in power,” the report reads.
Expansive laws were passed by Democrats when they controlled the legislature and the governor’s office from 2020 to 2022, but Republicans “sought to roll back some of these reforms” when they took control from 2022 to 2024.
The Brennan Center report characterizes this as a conflict between proponents of voting reform and those who oppose it; however, it is more likely that the motivations behind this conflict stem from competing voting laws that will favor one party over another rather than from questions of good versus evil.
Banning Trump and ‘Bidenbucks’
Apart from the ongoing legal dispute over voter integrity legislation, another legal endeavor that has emerged in the last year is the complete removal of President Trump from the ballot. There have been over thirty states where legal challenges to President Trump’s candidacy have been launched thus far.
And as the 2024 election approaches, the power of Zuckerbucks and similar figures could be diminishing, but federal funding controlled by the Biden administration—dubbed “Bidenbucks”—seems to be displacing them.
The federal initiative, which the FGA refers to as “Zuckerbucks on steroids,” contains potentially limitless taxpayer cash in place of the hundreds of millions provided by wealthy individuals.
Executive Order 14019, titled “Promoting Access to Voting,” was signed by President Biden in 2021. It instructed federal agencies to assume the responsibility of voter registration with the aid of nongovernmental third-party interest organizations, a function that “Zuckerbucks” had performed in 2020.
The U.S. Constitution places authority over election administration in state legislatures; nevertheless, Mr. Whitson claims that the Biden administration is attempting to federalize elections through executive order after failing to do so through congressional legislation.
Using political players, the media, and tech corporations to dominate narratives has been another aspect of the coalition’s approach. Under pressure from DNC operatives, the 2020 coalition forced social media companies to remove what they called “misinformation.”
Laura Quinn, a seasoned progressive operative who co-founded Catalist, reportedly oversaw a covert, unnamed initiative that tracked misinformation online and attempted to identify ways to counter it. This information is based on Ms. Ball’s piece in Time.
According to Ms. Ball, Ms. Quinn and other DNC affiliates put pressure on social media sites to find and delete content that the Democratic Party claimed was inaccurate.
The New York Post’s October 2020 reporting about potentially damaging material found on Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s laptop computer were probably suppressed as part of this attempt.
Social media firms quickly censored these allegations, which were later verified to be accurate, and they didn’t break into the mainstream until after the election.
‘Moving Masses of People’
Coordination of social discontent led by organizations like Fight Back Table, Democracy Defense Coalition, and Protect the Results was another facet of the DNC strategy.
According to Angela Peoples, director of the Democracy Defense Coalition, “we wanted to be mindful of when was the right time to call for moving masses of people into the street” in case the 2020 election turned out badly, as Ms. Ball cited her.
Protect the Results, however, stated that it “would not be activating the entire national mobilization network today, but remains ready to activate if necessary” after Mr. Biden was proclaimed the winner, according to Ms. Ball.
“The members of the alliance to protect the election have gone their separate ways,” the author writes in the epilogue to her narrative.
However, it appears from financial disclosures made by several progressive nonprofit organizations that many of their initiatives will be replicated in 2024.