More than 100 Republican nominees for state office or congress this year have falsely claimed that electoral fraud helped defeat Donald Trump in 2020. Nearly 150 members of Congress — more than half of the Republicans serving there — went so far as to vote to overturn the 2020 election results.
These allegations of voter fraud have become the mainstream Republican position. In some places, winning a nomination pretty much requires making such statements. In other places, the claims appear to have little political cost, at least in the primaries. And very few elected Republicans are willing to expose the lies.
Given the prominence of the issue, it’s shocking to see how little effort its proponents have put into making an argument on behalf of their claims. They didn’t provide good evidence because there isn’t. They also failed to provide even a logically consistent argument. Consider:
In any case, the rare examples of cheating from 2020 involve Trump supporters. Prosecutors have accused three registered Republicans living in The Villages, a retired Florida community, of voting more than once in presidential elections. One of them has since pleaded guilty: he voted both in Florida and in his absence in Michigan.
Trump and his allies never explained how other Republicans could have done so well if fraud was rife. Republicans won 14 seats in the 2020 House election. In the Senate, the Democrats did win a 50-50 split, but the party lost races in Maine, Montana and North Carolina it had hoped to win. In the 2021 election, Republicans again performed well, winning the Virginia governor’s race. It is hardly an image consistent with manipulation of the democratic elections.
In the 2022 primaries, most Republican candidates accepted the results without claiming fraud. That goes even for candidates who have lost their races, as my colleagues Reid Epstein and Nick Corasaniti reported. Examples include Representative Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina; Representative Mo Brooks in Alabama Senate primary; and two Trump-backed candidates in Georgia. When Trump supporters lose to other Republicans, they generally accept defeat.
Loyalty, not logic
Of course, the claims of voter fraud are not going away. If Trump is a candidate again, he will likely cheat on every election he loses. At least some other Republicans now seem likely to be doing the same, perhaps in response to near or unexpected losses in 2022.
But the lack of any substantive argument to back up these claims suggests that even some of the people who make them may not believe them. The claims have instead become a way for many Republicans to show loyalty to their party and indicate that they view Democrats as inherently illegitimate rulers.
Sometimes these signals are tinged with racism, as DailyExpertNews’s Brandon Tensley has noted: The fraud claims often involve cities with heavily black or Latino populations, such as Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. For example, Rudy Giuliani claimed — without any evidence — that residents of Camden, NJ (about 90 percent of whom are black or Latino) vote illegally in Philadelphia (which, unlike Camden, is in a swing state). In Alabama, Brooks has said fraud largely takes place in Birmingham and other heavily Democratic cities.
The spread of such lies has left many historians and political scientists concerned about the future of American democracy. There’s no shortage of topics on which Democrats and Republicans can reasonably — even passionately or angrily — disagree: To what extent should the country restrict abortion? What about weapon use? Or immigration? How high should government taxes or benefits be?
All of these issues are valid points of discussion in a democracy. When one side loses a battle, it can look for ways to regroup and win the next.
But a coordinated campaign to delegitimize political opponents – through falsehoods and without much attempt at logical argument – is quite another. It is an attempt not to win a Democratic contest, but to avoid one.
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Gen Z geography
The premise of the online game GeoGuessr is simple: you are dropped somewhere in the world, seen by Google’s Street View, and have to guess where you are. Often that means clicking to move through the landscape and looking for clues.
Trevor Rainbolt, 23, has found fame online by posting videos where he locates himself in seconds, writes Kellen Browning of The Times. His geographic skills border on wizardry — he can identify a country by the color of its soil — and his highlights regularly get millions of views on TikTok.
“I honestly haven’t had a social life in the past year,” Rainbolt said. “But it’s worth it because it’s so much fun and I enjoy learning.”