Trump’s Delegitimization of Democracy Isn’t Wearing Off
By Ed Kilgore
People who are fond of democratic norms have been hoping that the widespread Republican mistrust of the fairness of the 2020 elections that Donald Trump created before, during, and after Election Day would fade, another vestige of four aberrant years yielding to something approaching “normalcy.” So far, it hasn’t, according to a new survey from CNN, which shows that 70 percent of self-identified Republicans do not believe “Joe Biden legitimately won enough votes to win the presidency.” That’s just a tick below the 75 percent who felt that way in a January CNN survey. In what the pollsters took to be an encouraging sign, the percentage of Republicans who think “there is solid evidence that Biden did not win has dropped from 58 percent in January to 50 percent now.”
The mistrust of Trump voters about the fairness of the election, of course, was the rationale for MAGA efforts to stop Joe Biden’s certification as president-elect by Congress on January 6. Since that mistrust persists, we are beginning to glimpse the possibility of an unfounded suspicion of foul play that cannot be dispelled or even rebutted because it has never really been articulated except in nonsense legal proceedings that every court has instantly rejected, and in chaotic and sometimes incoherent arguments from Trump and his hirelings.
Whataboutists will naturally claim that in this tragically and sometimes inexplicably polarized era, both sides are equally prone to denying the legitimacy of the other side’s president. FiveThirtyEight examined that premise in late November of last year and found it completely unwarranted:
[S]ome Democrats did lose confidence in the election after Trump won in 2016. Nevertheless, a majority of Democrats (as well as Republicans and independents) believed that votes were counted accurately after the election was over. So the finding in this latest round of polls, that roughly three in four Republicans don’t have faith in the electoral process, is a big departure from what public opinion polls found after the last election.