I’m having a hard time grasping how Tuesday night could have been a “repudiation” of a guy who performed about four points better than the national polling, helped his party retain the Senate and make gains in the House, and got the highest share of nonwhite voters by a Republican president in decades. (At least if the exit polls are right. Who knows?) In a “repudiation” scenario, one would think we’d have known the winner of the election within an hour or two after polls closed. As it is, it’s Thursday afternoon and things are still — a little — in doubt.
What kind of repudiation involves the losing candidate winning five million more votes than he did the first time he ran, even allowing for population growth among the electorate in the interim?
Maybe I’m having trouble with the concept because I’m a Never Trumper. For that group, the takeaway from this election is clear and it emphatically does not involve a repudiation. To be repudiated, Trump would have had to lose by such a margin that he wouldn’t have bothered trying to claim voter fraud; the numbers would have made it seem too silly. Instead he would have said he was “cheated” by the deep state, the Russiagate probe, the media, Never Trump “human scum,” COVID — all the old familiars. The vote count was accurate, he would have allowed, but voters’ opinions of him had been so warped by his enemies that the result could hardly be deemed “fair.”