With ballots still not counted in crucial Democratic strongholds and Joe Biden’s path to victory appearing much clearer on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump’s right-wing media allies wasted no time at all in supporting his claim that counting all the votes was somehow a cheat.
It’s a scenario that election observers have warned about for months: Tuesday’s nail-biting results remain uncertain on Wednesday, with large swathes of mail-in ballots still non-existent in critical areas like Philadelphia and Detroit. Despite this, President Donald Trump declared victory in an early morning announcement, threatening to ask a conservative-dominated Supreme Court to stop counting the remaining votes. Trump also took to Twitter in a post reported since, baselessly accusing Democrats of “trying to steal the election.”
The remark served as a growing rallying cry among a far-right audience who, for months, have been prepared – by Trump and by the most compartmentalized media apparatus imaginable – to cry fraud over any outcome. apart from a Trump victory.
When Michigan and Wisconsin released more results on Wednesday morning, Benny Johnson, a staff member at young conservative group Turning Point USA, tweeted to his 360,000 followers that “at 6 a.m. this morning Joe Biden won by magic + 100,000 votes in Wisconsin and Michigan!?! ?! There is no explanation for this. What is happening? This is insane! “
It was neither magic nor foolish, but the results of these states legally counting the ballots. And election officials have long warned that a full vote count could take days, as it has in many past contests. Several states say they will announce new batches of results at regular intervals as counting continues.
The reality of the situation hasn’t stopped other right-wing figures and platforms from trying similar tactics to cast doubt on emerging votes, often describing the tally as “magic.”
“Not to be outdone, extremist-friendly social media platform Gab invoked a military insurgency, sending an email in the morning with the headline, “ President Trump declares victory, stop the blow! ”“
“So while everyone was asleep and after everyone got home, Michigan Democrats magically found a treasure trove of 138,339 votes, and all 138,339 of those ‘votes’ magically went to Biden? It doesn’t sound suspicious at all, “wrote the founder of the right-wing publication The Federalist in a tweet that Twitter tagged with a warning that” some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and could be misleading. mistaken about an election or other civic process. Nonetheless, other prominent Trump supporters, such as Candace Owens (2.7 million subscribers), shared the tweet with allegations that Democrats were trying to “cheat.”
Trump, himself, joined in the “magic” growl, tweeting Wednesday morning that “Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states, in almost all cases Democrat-led and controlled. Then, one by one, they began to magically disappear as the surprise ballots were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” have it completely and historically wrong! “(Twitter flagged the tweet as containing content that” is disputed and could be misleading about an election or other civic process “).
Talk radio host and former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka tweeted, “It’s called election day. NOT on election days ”and claimed that Biden was“ stealing ”states off the battlefield from Trump. White House reporter at the right-wing publication Newsmax Emerald Robinson has told his Twitter followers to be prepared for “fake ballots.”
As election watchers have long predicted, late votes in some states should favor Biden. Many of those votes are postal ballots, cast by a set of voters who have leaned towards Biden, especially in major cities. In Pennsylvania and some other states, officials were unable to begin counting mail-in ballots until election day, with several counties in Pennsylvania saying they would not begin processing those ballots until Wednesday.
On the Telegram messaging platform, some far-right election channels used Biden’s surge in votes to suggest insanity, rather than long-term votes returning home to roost. A typical example, taken from a channel with nearly 9,000 subscribers, was a post alleging electoral fraud under a meme of a gunman in neo-Nazi gear.
“It looks like a setup to steal the presidency by the Democrats.“
– Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House GOP
Not to be outdone, extremist-friendly social media platform Gab invoked a military insurgency, sending an early email with the headline “President Trump declares victory, stop coup!”
Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed that Philadelphia, where enough mail-in ballots were circulating in the city and suburbs to potentially tip the state over to Biden, a “vote theft center” and called for a Senate inquiry into the counting of the votes.
“It looks like a setup to steal the presidency by the Democrats,” Gingrich said.
Matt Schlapp, the leader of the Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), tweeted a photo of himself at “The Brooks Brothers Riot” – a (violent) Republican effort to stop the vote count in Florida in 2000. Schlapp added the hashtag “#Stopthesteal”, which became an organizing hashtag for Republicans claiming the election was stolen from Trump.
Marjorie Greene, a Georgian elected to Congress on Tuesday despite her support for the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, also tweeted the slogan on Wednesday morning. She accused a Democratic candidate for the Senate of her state of being involved in a “coup”, wanting “BLM / ANTIFA terrorists [to] come to your door ”and that supporters had to“ stop the theft ”.
Republicans have already indicated they want to dismiss – or at least cast serious doubt on – the results of any votes other than same-day in-person voting, especially in cities. A Republican court challenge in Harris County, Texas attempted to reject more than 100,000 ballots cast in the drive-thru vote. (Harris County leans toward Democrat and represented one of the best chances of turning the state blue, even if it ultimately went Trump’s way.)
That challenge, along with the Republican effort to stop counting mail-in ballots received after election day in Pennsylvania, has been stalled. Trump’s campaign had previously suggested they would take this Pennsylvania case to the Supreme Court.
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