Media figures criticized Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s suggestion that “the election’s going to be rigged” in November, explaining the remarks would “do serious damage” to the country, are likely being “offered independent of evidence,” and may be “setting the stage to delegitimize the [election] results.”
Donald Trump Speculates Election Is “Going To Be Rigged”
Donald Trump: “I’m Afraid The Election’s Going To Be Rigged.” Donald Trump at an August 1 event complained that he is “‘afraid the election’s going to be rigged,’” according to CNN. Trump added “that he has heard ‘more and more’ that the November election will be rigged -- suggesting to his supporters that the outcome of the election is out of the hands of voters.” [CNN.com, 8/2/16]
Media Figures Explain “Dangerous” Consequences Of Remarks
Talking Points Memo: Trump Is “Lay[ing] The Groundwork For Rejecting The Result Of A National Election.” Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall wrote that Trump was using “this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election.” Marshall warned that voters “should not be surprised if [Trump] refuses to accept the result of an electoral defeat” and that “we’re entering a dangerous new phase of the 2016 campaign.” From the August 1 blog post:
It may not seem terribly important right now with all the stories roiling the campaign. But I think there's a good chance it's the most important. Over the last 48 hours Trump's allies, surrogates and now Trump himself have forcibly injected the topic of voter fraud or 'election rigging' into the election. Longtime TPM Readers know this topic has probably been the publication's single greatest and most consistent focus over fifteen years. The subject has been investigated countless times. And it is clear that voter fraud and especially voter impersonation fraud is extremely rare - rare almost to the point of non-existence, though there have been a handful of isolated cases.
What Republicans politicians have virtually never done was use this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election. This is Donald Trump, not a normal politician. You should not be surprised if he refuses to accept the result of an electoral defeat or calls on his supporters to resist it.
Whether Trump is starting to lay the groundwork for contesting the election on claims of widespread voter impersonation fraud or some kind of broader effort for election officials to falsify results, we're entering a dangerous new phase of the 2016 election campaign. [Talking Points Memo, 8/1/16]
New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait: Remarks Like This Are “Going To Do Serious Damage” To The Country “Even If [Trump] Loses.” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait noted that up to now “major-party candidates have always respected the law” and that it is “difficult to sustain a democracy without these kinds of norms” like respecting election outcomes. Chait added that with these comments, “Trump is going to do serious damage even if he loses.” From the August 1 article:
American democracy is held together in part by laws, but also by norms. Donald Trump has taken a sledgehammer to them one by one. The latest is the general assumption that the losers of an election should respect the democratic outcome. “I’m afraid the election’s gonna be rigged, to be honest,” he said today.
Trump does not require a lot of evidence to conclude that elections have been rigged. On Election Night 2012, he declared the outcome — a clear win for President Obama — a “sham” and a “travesty.”
Still, to this point, major-party candidates have always respected the law. Al Gore requested a re-count to which he was legally entitled in 2000, and conceded the election after the Supreme Court quashed it. It is difficult to sustain a democracy without these kinds of norms. Trump is going to do serious damage even if he loses. If he wins, the future of the Republic is in serious danger. [New York magazine, 8/1/16]
Wash. Post’s Philip Bump: “The Problem With Election-Rigging Accusations Is That They’re Usually Offered Independent Of Evidence.” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted that Trump falsely suggested that the election was rigged in 2012 and wrote, “The problem with election-rigging accusations is that they're usually offered independent of evidence. From the August 2 article:
There's a big difference between Twitter personality Trump complaining about the results in 2012 and Republican nominee Trump complaining about the results in 2016 — particularly given his past apparent encouragement of violence at his events.
At least one prominent supporter is already on board with the message. Over the weekend, long-time Trump ally (and one-time Trump staffer) Roger Stone conducted an interview with Breitbart.com, a website that's been staunchly and unabashedly supportive of Trump's candidacy. Stone openly endorsed the idea that voting machines can be and have been rigged -- including in Ohio in 2012.
Stone encouraged Trump to start priming the pump on the issue.
The problem with election-rigging accusations is that they're usually offered independent of evidence. During the Democratic primaries, rumors of elections being rigged for Hillary Clinton were rampant, without any evidence of widespread fraud. Crafting a scenario in which fraud is occurring takes as little as a temporary glitch in results in one state to be credible to some.
If Trump loses, and if 2012 or his comments on Monday are any guide — America may have another chance to demonstrate the strength of its democracy. [The Washington Post, 8/2/16]
Vox: Trump’s Comments “Signal That If Met With Loss In November, Trump Would Refuse To Concede.” Vox’s Tara Golshan wrote that Trump’s commentary on voter fraud seemed to come from adviser Roger Stone and that “Stone’s threat of violence, paired with Trump’s talk of voter fraud, signal that if met with loss in November, Trump would refuse to concede.” Golshan added that the “United States has peaceful transfers of power because the loser admits defeat. But for Trump, who is obsessed with winning, that is seemingly unthinkable.” From the August 2 article:
Trump’s new commentary on voter fraud seems to be coming from political strategist and Trump’s close adviser Roger Stone, who told Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos Sunday that Trump has to “begin talking about it constantly.”
Stone added that if Clinton were to “steal” this and win, her inauguration would be a “bloodbath” :
“If you can’t have an honest election, nothing else counts,” he continued. “I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it.”
Stone’s threat of violence, paired with Trump’s talk of voter fraud, signal that if met with loss in November, Trump would refuse to concede. The United States has peaceful transfers of power because the loser admits defeat. But for Trump, who is obsessed with winning, that is seemingly unthinkable. [Vox, 8/2/16]
CNN’s Brian Stelter: “‘I’m Afraid The Election Is Going To Be Rigged’ -- Trump Setting The Stage To Delegitimize The Results?”
Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “I Think There’s A Real Chance Trump Loses And Then Immediately Tries To Delegitimize The Results.”
CNN’s Eric Bradner: “Trump Is Beginning To Delegitimize The Process. He’s Warning Of A ‘Rigged’ Election.”