On the House side, the representative described a situation in which a significant number of House GOP lawmakers — he said he had talked to between 30 and 40 — believe that some sort of voter fraud occurred. They look at Republicans coming remarkably close to winning the House in an election in which they were predicted to lose seats. They look at a House race like the 23rd District in Texas, which Democrats targeted after the retirement of Republican Rep. Will Hurd. It was often cited as a big potential pickup for Democrats, but the GOP candidate, Tony Gonzales, won. So they ask how Republicans could outperform expectations and Trump lose. And they strongly believe that activists in the Democratic Party and on the left did something to manipulate, to hack the results in key states. But at the same time, the representative described that belief as a gut feeling and acknowledged they don’t have the evidence to back it up.

So they support Trump’s continued challenges in the hope that the evidence might emerge. To have a chance, the representative explained, Trump has to move beyond citing small examples of individual irregularities and discover the bigger vote manipulation behind it all. It’s fine to talk about dead people voting, but that’s not the big thing, they believe. They acknowledge that the evidence might never be found — that Trump has, in fact, lost — but while the search goes on, they have absolutely no problem with the president not conceding. On that, Trump is on firm ground with a lot of Republicans.