Hidden camera: Trump lost Wisconsin because 51,000 Republicans didn't vote for him, says Ron Johnson

Hidden camera: Trump lost Wisconsin because 51,000 Republicans didn't vote for him, says Ron Johnson

This feels shocking because populist Republicans are simply not supposed to admit that Trump’s defeat might have been due to anything except out-and-out cheating by Democrats.

Especially populist Republicans who are up for reelection next year.

But in fairness to RonJohn, he’s always been more of a “softcore” election truther a la Larry Elder than a hardcore conspiracy theorist like Sidney Powell, say. The hardcore types believe that voting machine companies rigged the election for Biden; the softcore ones focus on legal but unethical behavior like the media refusing to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story to steer voters towards Biden. It’s not that any vote totals were changed, in their view, it’s that Trump got a raw deal from opinion-shapers and might have prevailed if he’d been given a fairer shake.

The softcore position is the one you take when you can’t in good conscience claim there was actual cheating but you need to make credulous noises about unfairness to pander to Trump fans whose votes or money you need.

Here’s a story about a hearing on election security held by the homeland security committee last December and chaired by Johnson. Softcore, not hardcore:

Though Mr. Johnson conceded in his opening remarks that fraudulent voting did not affect the outcome of the election, he said that “lax enforcement, denying effective bipartisan observation of the complete election process, and failure to be fully transparent or conduct reasonable audits has led to heightened suspicion.”

Right, that’s another frequent talking point of softcore truthers, that “questions” have been raised about the election and therefore we must proceed with investigations to try to answer them, in order to ease people’s suspicions. He’s not dumb; he knows that no finding of any investigative body will satisfy true blue election conspiracy theorists that Biden won fair and square. But the least he can do to stay in their good graces is reassure them that their “heightened suspicion” is understandable, if not quite justified.

A lefty posing as a righty cornered him at a recent event with a hidden camera rolling. I’m convinced Biden cheated to win Wisconsin, she told him, trying to bait him. C’mon, replied Johnson, have you even looked at the vote totals? There’s no mystery why Trump lost. Some small but decisive number of Republicans voted GOP downballot but couldn’t stomach Trump and flipped to Biden at the top. That was the story all over the country, in fact — Republicans overperformed in House and Senate races and even Trump overperformed his polling in the presidential race. He just couldn’t quite overperform it enough to overtake Biden, who pulled in enough anti-Trumpers in swing states to win narrowly.

It’s part and parcel of one of the obvious flaws of election conspiracy theorizing. If Democrats were going to go to the trouble of rigging the presidential race, why wouldn’t they rig downballot races too? Why saddle themselves with a reduced House majority?

This isn’t the first time, allegedly, that Johnson has acknowledged Biden won. Last November a former Republican official in Wisconsin wrote about a conversation he had with Johnson a few days after the election.

After dismissing the notion that being honest with his constituents about election integrity was important, Sen. Johnson said that although Biden had won, he was, “the worst candidate for president in the history of the country.” He said that Biden won strictly because of all the hatred for Trump that was advanced by the media every single day. We spoke of organizations such as the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump. Johnson said that he loathed these organizations because “they are money-grubbing pieces of shit.” He said that these organizations and the media refused to accept all the good things Trump has done, “even though he [Trump] is an asshole, he was right on so many things.” He talked about his displeasure for the “political establishment.” He said that he “honestly doesn’t even much care for Mitch McConnell,” because of his entrenchment within said establishment.

When the official asked Johnson why he didn’t challenge Trump more often on the things he believes Trump got wrong, Johnson allegedly told him that that would be political suicide. Indeed, as would dismissing Republican concerns about “election integrity.” Which is why he also gave this answer supporting an ongoing election audit in Wisconsin to the same undercover lefty:

If you’re a Republican pol who can’t stomach going full truther, you have to satisfy your base somehow in their belief that Biden’s legitimacy is in question. “He won, get over it” just isn’t an option unless you already committed to an anti-Trump posture by voting for impeachment this past winter. RonJohn’s doing what he feels he can to avoid bear-hugging the Big Lie while remaining politically viable.

Speaking of which, I’ll leave you with this enjoyable exchange between Powell and an Aussie reporter who interviewed her about her endless election conspiracy theorizing. Do you have the first clue about how small Smartmatic’s role in this election was, the reporter asked her? It was all downhill from there.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on May 27, 2023