The GOP 'buffoons' can't steal Biden's victory — but they came 'closer than you think': columnist

The GOP 'buffoons' can't steal Biden's victory — but they came 'closer than you think': columnist
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the Moving America Forward Forum hosted by United for Infrastructure at the Student Union at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: Gage Skidmore

President-elect Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory in the 2020 presidential election, winning 306 electoral votes and defeating President Donald Trump by at least 5.8 million in the popular vote. But liberal Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman, this week, argues that in terms of the Electoral College, the election was "closer than you think" and that Republicans might have been able to "steal the election" if things had played out differently in some battleground states.

"If Trump's team were not such a bunch of buffoons, and if Republican officials at the state level were just a little more corrupt than they already are, he might have been able to steal the election after all," Waldman explains. "That's because the 2020 election was, in one critical way, even closer than 2016. You may remember that four years ago, Trump managed to win the electoral college because he prevailed in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by a combined total of just 77,000 votes. That tiny margin was enough to overcome Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote lead in the popular vote and make him president with 304 electoral votes."

Waldman notes that as of Wednesday morning, the combined margin of victory for Biden in three critical battleground states — Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin — adds up to about 45,050 votes.

"If Trump had managed to get those 45,000 votes," Waldman writes, "he would have won 37 more electoral votes — making the Electoral College a 269-to-269 tie. Under the Constitution, the election would have then been decided by the House of Representatives, with each state delegation getting just one vote. Even though Democrats have a majority in the House, more state delegations have Republican majorities. Trump would have been reelected. That's the bullet we just dodged, all because of 45,000 votes."

Biden's performance in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, Waldman writes, "raises the question of whether Trump might still be able to convince election officials and courts to toss out enough Democratic votes to pull it off." And according to Waldman, "The answer at this point is plainly no. The simple reason is that there are no grounds to do so and no fraud to be found despite Republicans' efforts. The suits they have filed around the country have been almost laughed out of court, but they're still trying."

Waldman emphasizes that although it appears that Trump won't be able to "steal the election," that doesn't mean that he isn't trying.

The Post columnist observes, "On Tuesday, the Trump campaign filed suit in Nevada asking that Biden's 34,000-vote victory simply be nullified and the state's electoral votes be awarded to Trump or at least given to neither candidate. In Pennsylvania, the increasingly unhinged Rudolph W. Giuliani, appearing in court for the first time in decades, made an utter fool out of himself…. And in Michigan, the Republican members of the elections board of Wayne County, which includes Detroit, initially refused to certify the results; one of them said that she'd be willing to certify those from cities other than Detroit. It was a momentary lifting of the veil, as the GOP's belief that the votes of Black people are inherently illegitimate became disturbingly explicit."

Sargent adds, "After an outpouring of protest, the two Republicans relented and certified the results. But had they been more committed to giving Trump the election at all costs, we could have eventually found ourselves in the situation many feared — in which a state's Republican legislature simply decided to grant its electoral votes to Trump no matter what the voters wanted. And if one state's GOP legislature did it, others might have too. The legislatures in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia are all controlled by Republicans."

During the weeks leading up to the election, veteran Democratic strategist James Carville argued that unless Biden defeated Trump by 6% or more, Republicans would be able to "steal the election" because of all the partisan judges they have placed in the courts. Biden, according to the vote count reported by the Associated Press, defeated Trump by about 4%. And Waldman concludes his column by arguing that from an Electoral College standpoint, Democrats narrowly dodged a bullet in this year's presidential race.

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