False election claims in California reveal a new normal for the GOP

This swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election, or any ongoing race that might result in defeat, must be marred by fraud. The relentless falsehoods spread by Mr. Trump and his allies about the 2020 election have only fueled such fears.

“I very honestly believe there were irregularities and fraudulent activity,” Elena Johnson, 65, a teacher in Los Angeles County who was in the crowd at a rally for Mr. Elder last week in Ventura County, said of the presidential contest last year. “It was stolen.”…

“This is baked into the playbook now,” said Michael Latner, an associate professor of political science at California Polytechnic Institute. As soon as the recall was official, he added, “you already started to see stories and individuals on social media claiming that, you know, they received five ballots or their uncle received five ballots.”

Some Republican leaders and strategists around the country worry that it is a losing message. While such claims may stoke up the base, leaders fear that repeatedly telling voters that the election is rigged and their votes will not count could have a suppressive effect, leading some potential Republican voters to stay home.

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