The legacy media are normalizing the GOP's brazen attempts to corrupt this election

The legacy media are normalizing the GOP's brazen attempts to corrupt this election

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with U.S. President Donald Trump after a news conference. Washington DC, USA. Thursday 12 Of October 2020

Shutterstock/ Christos S

"Democrats at all levels remained privately terrified of another surprise result, despite far greater confidence in polling that point[s] to a victory for former vice president Joe Biden," reports The Washington Post. "Republicans put their faith, once again, in the president's showmanship as he mounted a final series of irreverent rally spectacles in violation of public health guidance, hoping to motivate a massive late surge of turnout."

This framing completely obscures what is happening in America on the eve of the election.

Republicans are not putting their "faith in Trump's showmanship." As I wrote last week, they're responding to a drumbeat of rosy predictions in the conservative press, where Trump's victory is imminent--possibly in a landslide--based on boat- and truck-parades, dubious theories about "shy" Trump voters and carefully cherry-picked polls from firms with established GOP leans, or "house effects." Most of them are unprepared for defeat and primed to see a loss as prima facie evidence of fraud, and that is a very dangerous situation.

And while it's certainly true that many Democrats were traumatized by the 2016 election, attributing their anxiety only to concerns that we might see an even greater polling error this year elides the fact that we're witnessing not only the most comprehensive voter suppression campaign since the Jim Crow era, but also active attempts to prevent untold numbers of legitimate ballots to not be counted. A lawsuit seeking to trash 127,000 Democratic-leaning ballots in Harris County, Texas, has been the most high-profile attempt to do so thus far, but we can expect more of the same.

Trump, who has urged violent extremists to "stand by," is planning to declare victory on Tuesday night if he's ahead after a partial count, despite the fact that millions of mail ballots will remain uncounted, military ballots tend to come in late and seven counties in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania don't plan on starting to count absentee ballots until Wednesday, according to NBC.

The US Postal Service, managed by a Trump donor with serious conflicts of interest, has announced that mail ballots returned by voters in Detroit, Greater Michigan, Central Pennsylvania and other localities have been delayed due to "COVID-19 and employee unavailability," according to The Hill's John Kruzel. Michigan won't count those ballots if they're received after Election Day. Pennsylvania voters' ballots are supposed to be counted if they arrive by November 6, but the GOP is suing to shorten that deadline. Meanwhile, Trump's hand-picked Supreme Court Justices have adopted a once-extreme legal theory holding that state courts don't have the power to protect voting rights according to their state constitutions.

And after a judge lifted an almost 40-year-old consent decree barring the GOP from intimidating voters with unauthorized "election observers" stationed at the polls, Trump has called for an "army" of supporters to confront voters trying to exercise their franchise, and they have responded.

So there is far more for Trump's opponents to worry about than a polling error. That's probably the least of their worries.

And in a functional democratic republic where a bipartisan consensus held that eligible citizens should be encouraged to participate, and that their votes should be counted, it would be Trump's supporters who would be chewing their nails to the quick while Democrats would be looking forward to this election with excitement.

While Trump has a chance of winning--the leading forecast models peg the likelihood at between 5% and 10%--consider these indicators:

  • According to preliminary data from the 2020 Cooperative Election Study, which surveyed a massive sample of 50,000 likely voters, Biden is leading Trump nationally among those who didn't vote in 2016, or voted for a third party, by a 56-27 margin. And three times as many of Trump's 2016 supporters prefer Biden (6 percent) than Clinton supporters back Trump (2 percent).
  • That trend is reflected in crucial swing states in NYT/ Siena College surveys. In Arizona, more than one-fifth of likely voters didn't vote in 2016, and Biden leads among that group by 7 points; in Wisconsin, he's ahead by 19 points with those who sat out 2016; in Florida, he's up by 17 and in Pennsylvania, he leads Trump by 12 points among the 18% who sat out the last election, according to Greg Sargent.
  • There has been a huge shift in independents over the past four years; Trump won them by four points in 2016, and Biden leads the incumbent among this group by double digits in most polls.
  • And of course, Trump's approval rating went under water--with more people disapproving than approving of his performance--on his 15th day in office, which is unprecedented, and he and his party have trailed Biden and the Democrats every single day of this race by significant margins.
  • While Trump wasn't on the ballot directly in 2018, he sucks up all the oxygen in a room. A surge of turnout led Democrats to their biggest midterm win in history. They also turned out and won key races in the off-year elections in 2017 and 2019.

All of which is to say that it is abundantly clear from every available metric that a majority of Americans, having voted for Hillary Clinton four years ago, have wanted Trump gone ever since. And it is not vague fears of a polling error that is causing them stress--it's the very real possibility that Donald Trump will attempt to pull off a coup.

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