There are plenty of reasons to worry about Donald Trump’s impact on our electoral process. Allegations of having colluded with a hostile foreign government notwithstanding, Trump continues to insist that he won the popular vote because 3-5 million “illegals” voted in the 2016 election. While this claim has been debunked time and time again, his insistence to the contrary led to the creation of the problematic White House advisory committee on voter fraud. The board requested information on voters that was previously sacrosanct. While the direct impact will be minimal as at least 44 states have refused to comply with the information requests. But that doesn’t mean the attempt at that outrageous information-grab won’t have a reverberating impact that should be classified as voter suppression.
Allegations of collusion? Check. Scaring voters away from the polls under threat that at some point in the future their private information might just be released to the federal government? Check.
But might there be a third way this president could undermine our democratic process?
Washington Post wondered just that, so they conducted a survey from June 5th to June 20th with a reported sample group of 1,325 Americans. Per the Washington Post report released yesterday, “Respondents were recruited from the Qualtrics online panel who had previously reported identifying with or leaning toward one of the two major parties. We focus on the 650 respondents who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. The sample has been weighted to match the population in terms of sex, age, race and education.”
Those surveyed were asked whether they believe Trump won the popular vote, whether they believe millions of illegal immigrants voted, and how often they think voter fraud occurs.
The survey then asked two questions about postponing the 2020 election, taken verbatim
- If Donald Trump were to say that the 2020 presidential election should be postponed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote, would you support or oppose postponing the election?
- What if both Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress were to say that the 2020 presidential election should be postponed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote? Would you support or oppose postponing the election?
Among those previously who identified as Republican voters through the Qualtrics panel, 47 percent believe that Donald Trump won the popular vote, 68 percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted, and 73 percent believe that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often.
Among that same group, 52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed this. Intuitively there was considerable overlap of folks who believed all of the above.
That’s pretty horrifying, isn’t it? That a president who isn’t even considered legitimate — let alone having conquered the “popular vote” can just stay president indefinitely because he has so thoroughly floated the false narrative of voter fraud? And what of electoral fraud?
But this is purely hypothetical. Republicans at the highest level seem to have lived through the phase in which they were terrified of defying this president. The pro forma blockade against Trump’s possible removal and installation of a recess replacement of Jeff Sessions definitely seems like progress. Still, it gives a look at what Republicans, once thought to have freedom and democracy trademarked to the point of nationalism are willing to concede if they think it might benefit their side, regardless of whether it’s to the detriment of America’s side.
As one so often wonders when reading job approval polling data, “Who are these 38% of Americans who think Trump is doing a job?” — this entirely hypothetical survey information gives us insight into how those folks think.