Stop asking Republicans if they agree Biden legitimately won. Ask them if Trump legitimately lost.

I watched Jake Tapper yesterday repeatedly try, and fail, to get the Mississippi Governor to say plainly that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president.  We all see this same variations over and over – “Joe Biden is the president.  He was elected president by a majority of the electors.”  Tapper (or others) will note that the Republican leader is not saying “freely and fairly,” and then we get a repeat of the same answer and some talk about voter fraud.  Here, the Republican governor vaguely conceded that Biden was “duly” elected, while otherwise blowing his loyalty dog whistle the whole time.

Just to shake up this dance, and because it really isn’t about Biden, or people’s feelings about Biden, I would cut more directly to the chase:  “Do you agree that Donald Trump was legitimately defeated?  Do you agree that Trump lost a free and fair election?”

I’m not saying this would get a better or different answer.  To the contrary, I think it would push Republicans deeper into the corner of defending Trump.  (Trump was duly defeated?)  I suggest it because I think it is the more direct and appropriate question – and also because I don’t think the question should be framed as about the legitimacy of Biden’s win.  Let Republican leaders on TV attack the truth of Trump’s defeat.

This nuanced point goes doubly for Democrats.  Republicans would never make this rookie mistake.  Republicans would never gleefully fuel a narrative of “Didn’t George W. Bush really win the election?”  — reinforcing doubts by mere dint of repetition.  No, their narrative was “Can’t Democrats admit that Al Gore lost?”

  • March 8, 2021