We're Supposed to Be a Democracy, But Half the GOP Is OK with Postponing 2020's Election
The Washington Post’s latest poll is enough to make the Statue of Liberty cringe.
“In a new poll, half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump proposed it,” read the headline of the paper’s Monkey Cage blog (for election geeks) on Thursday, which quickly reverberated around the internet.
“According to a poll conducted by two academic authors and published by the Washington Post, 52 percent of Republicans said they would back a postponement of the next election if Trump called for it,” TheHill.com quickly reported. “If Trump and congressional Republicans proposed postponing the election to ensure only eligible citizens could vote, support from Republicans rises to 56 percent.”
The Hill’s summation didn’t stop there, but affirmed that nearly equal numbers of Republicans—47 percent—think Trump won the popular vote. And a big majority, 68 percent, “also thinks millions of illegal immigrants voted in the presidential election and 73 percent think voter fraud happens somewhat or very often.”
ublicans who believe every one of these assertions are dead wrong. But this sizeable slice of America doesn’t know how uninformed it is and apparently doesn’t care. What don’t they know?
Let’s start with postponing the 2020 election. Not having a vote for Congress and the presidency presumably would allow the current regime to remain in power. Right?
No, wrong. The Republican super patriots favoring a possible delay in 2020 are completely unaware of the U.S. Constitution’s 20th Amendment.
The U.S. Constitution, which both the Congress and the president swear to uphold, states that Congress and the president have fixed terms of office with expiration dates. It’s over on January 20 for the president, and on January 3 for Congress. There’s no postponing, unless somehow, there’s a 21st-century civil war—or a similar coup.
Digging deeper, the 20th Amendment revised presidential and congressional terms to anticipate that the Electoral College—which was created by the 12th Amendment and meets in early December—might not be able to get a majority to pick the president. In that case, the House of Representatives picks the president. But there’s no postponing the election.
You might think the oh-so-political Washington Post would point this out, but no.
It says, “Postponing the 2020 presidential election is not something that Trump or anyone in his administration has even hinted at, but for many in his constituency floating such an idea may not be a step too far… Nevertheless, we do not believe that these findings can be dismissed out of hand. At a minimum, they show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied).”
The Post does not do any better with voter fraud. This is the Republican fantasy that hoards of Democrats are voting more than once to steal elections everywhere. They use that imaginary menace to impose harsh statewide voting laws that complicate the process for blue populations. It’s hard to know what's more abhorrent—the Post giving credence to the GOP’s big lie on voter fraud, or majorities of Republicans believing this lie is real.
Stop right there: claims of small-scale voter fraud are also not true. It happens less than once in a million voters—whether those keeping score are liberal civil rights lawyers or right-wingers like the Heritage Foundation that issue fancy reports they file in lawsuits, like this one that cites 492 cases and 733 voting malfeasance-related convictions from 1982 through 2016. That’s one case for every 2 million presidential election voters from 1984 to 2016 (roughly 980,000,000 votes). Millions more voted in other elections in this period.
Yet the Post’s blog gives credence to this fake issue, continuing, “But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? Our recent survey suggests that the answer is quite far: About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem.”
If you think I’m just being snarky, don’t take it from me. Here’s what the New York Times Editorial Board wrote in fall 2016 after another Post poll also found swathes of Americans believe voter fraud is real. “Another 26 percent of American voters said that fraud ‘rarely’ occurs, but even that characterization is off the mark. Just 1 percent of respondents gave the answer that comes closest to reality: 'Never.'"
The Times editorial began, “How does a lie come to be widely taken as the truth? The answer is disturbingly simple: Repeat it over and over again.”
This is getting to the heart of the matter—not that mainstream media that should know better, though they should—that Republicans like President Trump knowingly recite lies about voting and voters to play to partisan prejudice and passion. Anyone can look up the fact that Hillary Clinton won 2.9 million more popular votes than Trump.
But what about all those millions of undocumented immigrants repeatedly voting for Democrats using fake identities? That's another of Trump's fantasy claims. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law went looking. Its survey included the 10 counties with the highest non-citizen populations in America, and found “fewer than 10 [non-citizen] votes” cited by local election official.
Yet 68 percent of Republicans think millions of illegal immigrants voted, 73 percent of Republicans think voter fraud happens often or a lot, and half would be fine with putting off the next presidential election if Trump and Congress wanted to.