The president insisted he was the victor in this election, just as Biden had done. The difference between their remarks was one of style rather than substance. Unlike the former vice president, who gave his supporters an affectless version of the same message, Trump was explicit: “As far as I am concerned, we already have won it.” He argued that the only reason victory had not been declared in certain states was that his enemies were refusing to face the inevitable. (He gave accurate figures regarding the apparent totals in Georgia and Pennsylvania.) He also hinted at the dark possibilities — more votes for his opponents being discovered at 4:00 a.m. — and declared it all a “fraud” being perpetrated on the American people. (Mike Pence was more circumspect, only observing that he and Trump appeared to be “on the road to victory.”)

By noon on Wednesday this will be the narrative about the election. We will be told that the president who has won by sizable margins in state after state in which he was expected either to lose or to win with exceedingly narrow majorities is somehow attempting a fascist coup if in the days to come he insists that normal procedures, such as not counting mail-in ballots postmarked after Election Day and insisting that signatures on ballots match those appearing on voter rolls, be observed in Pennsylvania and other states.