Old and busted: Questioning election outcomes is “horrifying,” “really troubling,” and “not the way our democracy works.” New hotness: All hands on deck to question election outcomes! Despite some mumbling about the reluctance of Hillary Clinton and her team to involve themselves in recounts, the campaign’s official website now features sign-up forms for volunteers to actively take part in the festivities:
New signup forms on HillaryClinton.com ask for volunteers in Michigan and Wisconsin. “Help with the Michigan recount. Let us know if you want to get involved,” one page reads.
The website doesn’t offer any information about what volunteers would do.
Gee, I don’t know — waste time and money? “Horrify” and “trouble” America? Just five weeks ago, Hillary insisted that this kind of activity was “not the way our democracy works.” Suddenly, recounts and fears of vote rigging are totes patriotic, yo.
In almost the same breath during that final presidential debate, Hillary told moderator Chris Wallace that “this is a mindset. This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling.” Well, this is also a mindset of the Clintons — accusation, projection, and entitlement. Had Hillary responded during the debate by saying, “Our system allows candidates to scrutinize election outcomes, but I feel confident that we will have no reason to doubt it,” asking for recounts now wouldn’t be nearly as hypocritical. Instead, just weeks after accusing Trump of trying to undermine the very tenets of democracy by reserving this same option for himself, Hillary and her team have put all pretense of principle aside and decided to join in the very process Hillary herself derided on national television. Trump should be shunned for even thinking about recounts, but Hillary’s entitled to them … because.
Some have postulated that Hillary has joined in the recount effort in order to keep herself viable for a 2020 run. That seems almost deliberately counter-intuitive, especially given the belated Democratic donor revolt now under way. What better way to set even more of their money on fire than spending more time and resources on recounts whose very scale ensure futility? As I wrote in my column for The Week, the gaps in all three states far outstrip any reasonable chance of game-changing errors:
Beyond that, though, there are many thousands of reasons not to demand a recount. Specifically, there are 10,700 reasons in Michigan, 22,000 in Wisconsin, and 68,000 in Pennsylvania. Those are the votes that Clinton would have to make up in a recount to change the outcome in each state, and she’d need to succeed in all three of those states to change the Electoral College outcome. No recount has ever produced a vote change of that magnitude; no recount has even come close to it. FiveThirtyEight‘s Carl Bialik, working off of data from FairVote, noted that only three of 27 statewide recounts since 2000 have succeeded in changing the outcome of an election — and only when the original totals were much closer than any of those seen in the 2016 race.
“The mean swing between the top two candidates in the 27 recounts was 282 votes, with a median of 219,” Bialik explains. “The biggest swing came in Florida’s 2000 presidential election recount, when Al Gore cut 1,247 votes off George W. Bush’s lead, ultimately not enough to flip the state to his column.” …
[Jill] Stein continues to insist that she wants to pursue the recounts to demand change in voting infrastructure. But her recounts, like those 27 that have preceded them since 2000, would likely make the opposite point — that our vote-counting infrastructure actually gets accurate and reliable results. Even the Florida debacle in 2000 changed the results by [only] 0.022 percent, just about the same percentage as in 2008’s Minnesota recount. It would take 10 times that kind of scale to flip Michigan, and 30 times that scale to flip Wisconsin. Stein’s recount demands envision vote swings on a patently ridiculous scale.
Small wonder that even Democrats like Joe Trippi have openly scorned Stein’s effort. “It’s a waste of time and effort,” the Democratic strategist said. “I think it probably was the Stein people looking for a way to stay relevant, raise some money, and take the stink off of them” — a reference to accusations that Stein played a spoiler role in diverting enough Clinton votes in these states to give Trump the victory. Bob Shrum, another Democratic eminence grise, put it more bluntly — that there was “no chance” for these recounts to succeed.
When these recounts inevitably show that Trump won all three states as the original counts and canvasses determined, Hillary will have yet another pointless exercise to explain and even more dents in her credibility. If Stein is like a bad actor demanding another curtain call in an empty theater, Hillary is a royal pretender insisting past all reason that she deserves the crown because of her own feelings of entitlement. Perhaps Democrats need to tackle that kind of entitlement reform before they can start rescuing themselves from the disaster that Hillary and the current party leadership created for them.
At last night’s debate, and again today at his rally, Donald Trump declared his unwillingness to respect the electoral process that is the foundation of American democracy by refusing to accept the outcome of the election. American elections are not rigged. Peaceful transfers of power are a hallmark of our republic – and the envy of the world.
Except when Hillary loses an election, in which case it all stinks and we shouldn’t respect the outcomes. Gotcha.