Wisconsin and Michigan are among the last stands for Trump and the GOP to pull election tricks like 2000 and 2016. It may be some of the few schemes remaining aside from malign non-US actors.
Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who studies elections, said spurious claims about election results are par for the course for Trump.
“This is a pattern that we’ve seen throughout his presidency where he, even after winning, wanted to throw down on the fact that he had lost the popular vote and made allegations about non-citizens voting that would explain why he had lost the popular vote,” McDonald said, though he took care to note that such allegations were “of course, completely unfounded”.
He added that Trump appears to be engaged in “a similar pattern of throwing down on the electoral system, where it may either in the future or afterwards adversely affect him”.
While McDonald noted that Trump and Republicans in Congress have little power to push back on election results once they have been certified and the electoral college has met, he suggested that the greater risk to a legitimate election comes not from Republicans in Washington making baseless claims about fraud in Michigan, but from those in a neighboring state with a notoriously gerrymandered legislature: Wisconsin.
“The larger threat … is a scenario where a state like Wisconsin is pivotal in the election results and the electoral college, and Biden has won Wisconsin, but the Republican legislature decides to override the results from the election and award the electors to Donald Trump,” he said adding that the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Bush v. Gore noted that state legislatures have plenary power to decide how electors are appointed.“If you’re looking for a scenario where the results are somehow reversed from a Biden victory by allegations of irregularities in the election, that’s probably the scenario you’re looking at,” he added.
While McDonald posited that Michigan could also play host to such a scenario because of its “heavily gerrymandered” legislature, he stressed Wisconsin is the most likely candidate for such a power grab because of the lengths Republicans there have gone to stymie Democrats in the past, most recently by forcing voters to cast their ballots in person during the April primary election.
It’s also a state where Republicans have made no secret of their belief that voters in cities are illegitimate.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor who studies fascism and authoritarian leaders, concurred with McDonald’s assessment that Wisconsin Republicans could find reasons to overturn a narrow Biden victory, especially if his margin was based in heavily Democratic cities. She said that the steps Wisconsin Republicans took to strip Evers of a number of powers before he took office are a good indicator of how they might react to a Biden victory.
“Today’s GOP has a political culture that’s quite anti-democratic, so in terms of measures… to keep power from Democrats and avoid losing all the gains that they’ve made under Trump, they will feel the need to do anything possible,” she said. “If it’s legal, then it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility because the GOP has gone to extreme lengths for years.”
I have identified 256 tweets mentioning JOE BIDEN that were tweeted by inauthentic accounts.— Bot Sentinel (@BotSentinel) May 24, 2020
Nearly 100,000 lives have been lost, and tens of millions are out of work.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 24, 2020
Meanwhile, the president spent his day golfing. pic.twitter.com/H1BVNtgVjA