Bradley Tusk of Tusk Ventures, joins Yahoo Finance's The First Trade to discuss mail-in voting, mobile voting, outlook for the 2020 presidential election and the role that social media currently plays in politics.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: We know that state primaries are continuing, but they're looking a little bit different this year. Due to COVID-19, more and more voters are opting to mail in their ballots. And of course, the big question now is, what does this mean for the November 3 presidential election?
Here to talk about it with us is Bradley Tusk of Tusk Ventures. Bradley, good to see you. What do you think this means? Will mail-in ballots mean that more people will be voting come this presidential election?
BRADLEY TUSK: I hope so. I mean, interestingly, the election that has the least problems with turnout is the presidential election. Where we really run into problems is local elections, state elections, where all of a sudden-- like, for example, you remember last year Amazon tried to put 25,000 new jobs in Queens, and they were chased out of town. The city councilman who led the fight against them had 12,000 votes total cast in his primary.
So what tends to happen is people really at the extremes on the left or the right end up controlling the process because they show up to vote. Presidentials tend to have the best turnout, but yeah, I think with mail-in, you know, if you look at the states that have done it successfully, like Colorado and Washington and Oregon, they've seen increased turnout.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: We know that President Trump has come out pretty vocally against mail-in ballots, saying that fraud is rampant there, we're leaving the door open for a lot of fraud. Some people say that's not true. What do you think about that? Where do you stand?
BRADLEY TUSK: I think every form of voting is flawed, to be honest. You know, I'm a big proponent of mobile voting. I have spent a lot of time and money trying to move that forward. And yet we're still in the infancy of it. And I think we can do small groups of people in certain states. That's what we can handle right now.
A lot of the experts love paper ballots. But for those of us who remember 2000 and Bush v. Gore, you know, paper ballots ended up changing the entire presidential election in the wrong direction. And voting machines have problems all the time. Especially any of us who vote in New York City know that, because we just have waiting in line forever to use them because they're always broken.
So every form has problems. I do think the president is exaggerating it, but he is generally prone to exaggeration.
BRIAN SOZZI: Bradley, we haven't spoken to you since the protests begun. Curious on in your in political circles, what are people saying about Joe Biden's response over the past week?
BRADLEY TUSK: Yeah, I think it's been fine, pretty well. And I think what we're all realizing is if Biden went on vacation today and came back the day after Election Day, I'm not sure the results would be any different whatsoever. Reelections for president are always a referendum on the incumbent. And in this case, because the incumbent is such an outsized personality, for better and for worse, and because we're in the middle now of a recession, a global pandemic, and massive civil unrest, I'm not really sure. People have either voted for Trump or against Trump, and I don't think that much Biden does either way is going to make a difference.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I'd love to get your take on President Trump and what he's been saying lately about social media platforms, in particular Twitter. They sort of have this tug of war going on, very public tug of war going on right now. What do you make of that? And might that hurt Trump, come time for voters to vote?
BRADLEY TUSK: Yeah, I don't know if it will have a big impact on the election because it's a pretty obscure topic. But as a venture capitalist, I actually would like to see Section 230 repealed. Section 230 is the federal law that gives platforms like Twitter and Facebook immunity so that if you or I posted something really crazy, they're not liable for anything that we say.
If that protection were removed-- and what's interesting is both Trump and Biden support removing that protection-- I think in a way, it would really allow new social networking startups to come about, to innovate. Right now, it's just impossible to compete with the monopolies like Facebook. But if they have to do more than just give you a quick dopamine hit, provide a better value proposition to the customers, I think there's room for a lot more innovation in the space. So I would love to see Section 230 repealed.
BRIAN SOZZI: Bradley, how impactful is it to President Trump's reelection chances that now we're seeing retired military folks like General Mattis speak out against him?
BRADLEY TUSK: Yeah, I mean, I think it's two things. One is, there are a lot of people who, for example, in 2016 either voted for Trump because they just didn't like Hillary or they stayed home. And I think that uncertainty is going away more and more. But what was even [INAUDIBLE] to me is, last night my 11-year-old asked me, if Trump loses will he leave office? And I was thinking about it.
And when you think about where coups succeed around the world, it's because you have the military. And if Mattis in some ways is reflective of how military leadership-- even though he's ex-leadership now-- thinks about things, in some ways it's even less about how that might impact the election in November and more around Trump not trying to contest the outcome of it.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Bradley, how important is the black vote in this particular presidential election, now with all of this civil unrest happening just months before we're going to be going to the polls? Trump is not hugely popular with black voters, although he did get a slice of that pie in 2016. So how important are they this time around?
BRADLEY TUSK: I mean, very important. That's why Joe Biden is the nominee. And if you look at the handful of states that aren't swing states, there are really big African-American populations in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida and Michigan and Wisconsin. And so turnout's going to make a really big difference. Some people would argue that the lack of black turnout in 2016 is why Hillary lost all those states kind of in the upper Midwest by pretty small margins. And had she focused more on turning out black voters, she would have won.
BRIAN SOZZI: All right, let's leave it there. Bradley Tusk of Tusk Ventures, always good to speak with you.
BRADLEY TUSK: Thank you.
BRIAN SOZZI: Talk to you soon.