It appears President-elect Joe Biden will win at least as many electoral votes as Donald Trump did in 2016 — a result Trump advisers touted as a landslide at the time. But even with that outcome no longer in doubt, the Trump campaign is making a last-ditch effort to keep the president in power by attempting to delegitimize the whole election.
Their strategy is to make allegations first and hopefully find evidence for them later. This state of affairs was thrown into stark relief late Friday morning during a Fox News interview with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel. During it, Fox News hosts appeared to be out of patience with her evidence-free insinuations that the election was somehow stolen from Trump.
“We just haven’t seen it. It hasn’t been presented. There’s all kinds of stuff flying on the internet, but when we look into it, it doesn’t pan out,” anchor Bret Baier told McDaniel, as she failed to explain how her technical gripes about election observers in Michigan could possibly affect the result in a state Biden appears poised to win by well over 100,000 votes.
"We just haven't seen it" -- Even Fox News ain't buying it, Ronna pic.twitter.com/Ff8dc64Oyu— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 6, 2020
Later Friday, the Minnesota Reformer broke news that McDaniel is pressuring state-level Republicans in Minnesota and elsewhere to echo her baseless public relations campaign about election fraud in hopes of creating the perception that Trump was somehow wronged.
The Trump campaign is employing a similar throw-stuff-against-the-wall strategy. Consider the statement they released shortly after Vox and a number of other media outlets called the presidential race for Joe Biden on Friday morning.
“This election is not over,” it began, before going on to make a number of specific allegations of irregularities.
These claims, however, suffer from the same basic problem as McDaniel’s — they can’t withstand scrutiny.
The Trump campaign is throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks
Trump’s statement claims that in Georgia, where Biden leads pending a recount, “We are confident we will find ballots improperly harvested.” But Georgia has a Republican governor and secretary of state, and there’s no evidence of improper harvesting.
A statement from the Trump campaign: "this election is not over." pic.twitter.com/92pV9EmBbM— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) November 6, 2020
It goes on to complain about Pennsylvania election officials preventing “our volunteer legal observers from having meaningful access to vote counting locations,” but that argument has already been dismissed as a reason to stop the vote count in a federal court. Even a Republican leader in Pennsylvania acknowledged during a Fox News appearance on Friday that there’s no evidence of election “misdoing” in the state.
"I don't have evidence of any misdoing" -- Republican Jake Korman, Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania State Senate, just now on Fox News pic.twitter.com/mRgoFv70FI— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 6, 2020
In another state Trump is likely to narrowly lose, Nevada, the campaign statement alleges that there were “thousands of individuals who improperly case mail ballots.” But reporters pressed the Trump campaign for evidence to back up this claim on Thursday, and officials didn’t have any.
Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter and implied that there’s something nefarious going on with unreturned military ballots in Georgia, even though news reports indicate the process is working as it should.
Where are the missing military ballots in Georgia? What happened to them?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2020
Beyond the lack of evidence, the idea that officials would rig the election against Trump while denying Democrats a majority in the Senate and costing them seats in the House is absurd on its face, and Trump defenders are resorting to increasingly far-fetched arguments about the possibility of irregularities surfacing during recounts.
Trump defenders have resorted to suggesting that maybe evidence of irregularities will surface during recounts pic.twitter.com/b5eP9O9keU— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 6, 2020
While the courts and even Fox News don’t really seem to be buying what Trump is selling, the president does retain loyalty from key elected Republicans. In the hours following a Thursday press event in which the president undermined US elections by making baseless allegations of fraud, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz went on Fox News and indicated they’ll stand by Trump as he fights it out to the bitter end.
That Republican support may be politically significant, but barring some actual evidence of systemic irregularities that seems unlikely to be forthcoming, it won’t help Trump stay in office. Trump lost the election and, in the end, it wasn’t particularly close. All the spin in the world can’t change that.