A Democratic governor winning narrowly in a state Biden won by 30 means the election was “probably rigged”?
It took less time than I expected for Trump to move from “I can’t lose an election unless my opponent cheats,” which he was saying even before last year’s vote, to “my party can’t lose an election unless our opponents cheat.”
Believing that every Republican defeat is a product of cheating seems like a healthy place for our country to be. And it’s not just Trump who’s pushing that idea with respect to the California recall. Tomi Lahren told the Fox News faithful yesterday what she knew they were burning to hear:
Fox hosts and personalities are already setting the stage to blame voter fraud if Newsom prevails in the California recall — it seems like this is now the right-wing media playbook for every election
Lahren: "The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud" pic.twitter.com/6OvTlnb9MU
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) September 7, 2021
Dave Weigel is covering the California recall for WaPo and noticed that there wasn’t much “voter fraud” talk from righties until a few days after mail-in voting in California began, when it became clear that Democrats really were going to turn out. Republicans’ only hope of victory was Dems feeling apathetic about their guy and not bothering to return their ballots. Now that there’s evidence that that’s not happening, defeat looks likely. And so an excuse must be manufactured. Besides “California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state,” I mean.
The polls have also showed a shift towards Newsom lately, by the way. Is that a product of rigging too? Newsmax should have asked Trump last night:
Trump, on Newsmax, claims the recall election in California is "probably rigged" (as if Democrats can't win elections there fair and square) pic.twitter.com/gPbSq0XHGN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 8, 2021
Newsom’s still polling in the low 50s in some polls, giving the recall a fighting chance of prevailing. It’s a comfort to know that if he ends up pulling 49 percent instead of the 50.1 percent he needs, instantly the MAGA take will shift to “I guess it wasn’t rigged after all.”
Does Larry Elder share Trump’s opinion, by the way? He’s been slippery on whether Biden’s victory last year was legitimate, first saying that it was and then sounding more credulous about “stop the steal” a few weeks later. Someone on his staff must have showed him numbers like these from YouGov’s new poll:
You’re not going to be the consensus Republican choice on a crowded ballot insisting that Biden was duly elected. In fact, this bit from a recent LA Times story captures the absurdity of the situation in which “stop the steal” true believers find themselves in California:
Last week, two men, both self-described conservative Republicans, walked past a ballot drop box and carried their votes into the registrar’s office in Placerville. The men, who declined to give their names, wanted to hand-deliver the ballots because they did not trust mail-in voting.
“I think our elections are rigged,” said one, a 69-year-old man in a Tractor Supply hat.
The ballot wouldn’t be properly counted by the corrupt election officials if it were placed in the drop box — but it will be counted if you hand it to them personally? Or is the theory that the officials aren’t corrupt but that someone is breaking into the drop boxes and stealing the ballots before they can be collected and processed?
In that case, why not mail them to the registrar and bypass the drop boxes? Or is the Postal Service in on the fix too even though the election officials themselves aren’t?
I mentioned this in a post a few days ago but it’s worth repeating here. Trump instilled such fear of mail-in voting among Republicans for his own face-saving reasons last year that the California GOP now has to scramble to try to convince its supporters that mailing a ballot is safe in the interest of maximizing turnout:
California Republicans will launch a campaign on Friday to convince conservatives to trust the state’s mail-in balloting system, hoping to boost turnout in the election to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, party officials said…
The state party’s new campaign will acknowledge concerns about election integrity while also seeking to convince Republican voters they can trust the system, party leaders said. U.S. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy will be featured in an upcoming video urging people to vote…
The first two videos emphasize the party’s election integrity plan, which involves increasing poll watchers, hiring election lawyers and asking voters to report any irregularities. Then the speakers pivot to urging voters to cast their ballots.
They wouldn’t go to that trouble if they didn’t have good reason to suspect that some Republican votes will be left on the table due to paranoia about mail ballots. And there’s probably a different cohort of Republicans who simply won’t vote at all, whether by mail or in person, now that they’ve been convinced by their leaders that the election system is hopelessly corrupt. At least the guys described in the LA Times piece fought through their Trump-induced anxiety and handed in their ballots. Not everyone will.
Although, given the cynicism of the politics involved in screeching “fraud!” every time you lose, that’s not necessarily bad. The more Newsom overperforms the polling due to suppressed GOP turnout, the easier it’ll be to claim that the unlikely margin means the vote must have been rigged. Although Newsom’s certainly not going to win by anything like the 30-point advantage Biden enjoyed last November, in which case Republicans who believe there was fraud will need to explain that difference. Presumably Biden’s California win was rigged too, right? Why rig his victory to be 30 points and Newsom’s just 10 or 15 or so?
I’ll leave you with the latest California polling.
CA Recall Poll (YouGov, 2043 RV, 8/27-9/1)
Recall Yes 44%
Recall No 56%
— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) September 8, 2021