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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Trump's Fraud Narrative

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  His legal challenges to the election of Joseph Biden have toggled between appalling and farcical.    But his base continues to believe the bogus narrative.

President Trump has boxed Georgia Republicans facing two Senate runoffs into a difficult situation. When he traveled there Saturday to campaign for the candidates, he himself was in a corner: He needed to champion his baseless claims of election fraud, but still urge Georgia voters to cast ballots in this allegedly flawed system again in January.

“They can only win if they cheat,” Trump said of Democrats, broadly. “They can’t win this state unless they cheat, and they cheat better than anybody.”
That was supposed to be the part of his rally dedicated to telling Georgia voters that they should vote in the January runoffs that will determine which party controls the Senate. Yet it sounded like Trump thought the opposite.

From Trump's speech:

Dead people. You wouldn't believe how many. Illegal aliens, from out of the state, and they'll be filing out and filling out ballots from people who don't even exist. They put up names. They have people signing their own name over and over. They have, they have people signing names with the same pen, with the same signature.

...

They investigate you and they prosecute you. The moment you question them, they try and intimidate you. They call you a poor American. You're not a good American; you don't love our country. They don't love our country. They beat you down, shut you up, and make you retreat. That's what they do. That's what they've done to your governor, they've done that to your governor.

Your governor should be ashamed of himself. That's what they wanna do, right here in Georgia. They want you to be quiet. They want you to go away. But we don't go away, we don't go. It's the biggest open secret in America that Democrats cheat in elections. This year, by sending out 65 million mail-in ballots, they perpetrated the largest fraud in the history of our country.

Aaron C. Kay and Mark J. Landau at LAT:
Whether by accident or design, the election fraud narrative features three characteristics that supercharge its psychological appeal: It makes a complex and hostile world seem orderly, controllable and certain.

First, note that Trump and his supporters are suggesting a very specific reason for their loss: fraud. They are not arguing Biden’s victory is due to accidental miscounting or a random software error; rather, that it is the result of systematic ballot tampering and voting software manipulation. For psychological reasons, this is a crucial distinction.
...

In a recent study, we asked Republicans and Democrats to explain why news sources would ever publish erroneous news stories. They tended to characterize bad stories in outlets they perceived to be ideologically opposite to their views as intentionally “fake” rather than the result of accidental incompetence. And the stronger a person’s self-reported desire for order in the world, the more that person preferred to view objectionable news stories as intentionally fabricated. Similarly, the election fraud narrative can shield people from the idea of blind chance deciding their fate.

To be compelling, the fraud narrative also needs to be paired with another important element: an enemy. While the exact nature of this enemy shifted under Trump’s volatile messaging, it usually stands for a vast underground network of liberal organizations (the “Radical Left”), powerholders (e.g., the Clintons), private corporations (e.g., Big Tech), and policy makers (the so-called “deep state”).
...

Finally, the third characteristic of the election fraud narrative is that it’s laden with arguments that cannot be tested by evidence. Political and social ideas that cannot be tested by evidence tend to have a stronger psychological advantage...Interestingly, the rhetoric surrounding election fraud has become more immune to testing over time. Consider the “deep state” specter. Such a covert enemy can never be interrogated or investigated. To someone convinced of its role in the election, not finding any trace of its involvement is only more evidence of its cunning. Those who insist the election was stolen by the deep state can tell themselves no one can prove them wrong.