My headline makes sense upon reflection, but it’s so, so hard to watch the adulation of Trump among Republicans day to day and not come away believing that it’ll be utterly infuriating to them if he loses. He’s worshiped, engulfed by a populist cult of personality. And he’s spent months laying the groundwork to claim that if he loses he’s necessarily been cheated. How could defeat produce any other reaction among his fans besides rage? Plus, righty views of the modern Democratic Party are borderline apocalyptic. 2016 gave us the idea of the “Flight 93 election,” right? Either we win or the ship of state crashes, killing everyone aboard. For the modern GOP, consumed as it is with changing demographics and judicial appointments, every election must be won or it’s the end of America as we know it. If Trump loses, then, “anger” logically seems like the only possible response.
Republicans’ hyper-investment in Trump is borne out too in polling that shows his voters are much more enthusiastic about their candidate than Biden voters are. Ask a Trumper if they’re voting for him or against Biden and you’ll get something like 66/33. Ask Biden voters the question in reverse and it’s 33/66. If Trump has a cult and Biden has a “meh, he’s okay” contingent, obviously Trumpers should be angrier if their candidate loses.
But reflect for a minute and you’ll see why it makes sense that Dems will be angrier if Biden loses. As much as the populist right adores Trump, Democrats across the spectrum detest him. They’re every bit as enthusiastic as righties are — *against* Trump, not for Biden. Of course they’ll be irate if he wins again. There are other dynamics about the election as well that point to greater lefty rage if they fall short. For starters, if Republicans don’t get a second term out of Trump, at least they’ve had four years and two Supreme Court appointments. The left has been shut out of power since 2016 so their exasperation has been building. Meanwhile, the polling all year has favored Biden, often by gaudy margins. For Trump to win in the end would mean they’d been deluded into a false sense of confidence for the second presidential cycle in a row. On top of all that, Trump is highly likely to lose the popular vote even if he squeaks out another electoral college win. To lose two elections despite their candidate getting the most votes would drive liberals around the bend.