Are we destined for a crisis of democracy in 2024?

Meanwhile, at the state level, the Republican-backed bills that purport to fight voter fraud are obviously partially sops to conservative paranoia — but as such, they’re designed to head off cries of fraud, claims of ballots shipped in from China or conjured up in Italy. That sort of heading-off strategy may fail, of course, but for now, exercises like the Arizona audit have mostly divided grass-roots conservatives against one another rather than set up some sort of Tea Party wave that would sweep out all the quisling legislators who failed to #StopTheSteal in 2020.

That kind of wave is what anyone worried about a crisis in 2024 should be looking out for today. Undoubtedly a lot of Republican primary candidates will run on Trump-was-robbed themes in the next election cycle; undoubtedly a few more Marjorie Taylor Greene-ish and Matt Gaetzian figures will rise in 2022. But the key question is whether Trump and his allies will be able to consistently punish, not just a lightning rod like Raffensperger or the scattering of House Republicans who voted for impeachment, but the much larger number of G.O.P. officials who doomed the #StopTheSteal campaign through mere inaction — starting with Republican statehouse leaders in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona and moving outward through the ranks from there.

The same dynamic applies to Republicans in Washington.