A new Washington Post poll shows what has become of the once-proud, once democracy-embracing Republican Party, about how some voters can cast away once ferociously defended principles to follow their Leader — and about signs that democracy in the United States as practiced for generations is most assuredly not a given:
Critics of President Trump have repeatedly warned of his potential to undermine American democracy. Among the concerns are his repeated assertions that he would have won the popular vote had 3 to 5 million “illegals” not voted in the 2016 election, a claim echoed by the head of a White House advisory committee on voter fraud.
Claims of large-scale voter fraud are not true, but that has not stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing them. But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? Our recent survey suggests that the answer is quite far: About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem.
More confirmation that some voters will believe anything Trump says or tweets, even if it has been proven to be (ahem) at variance with the facts:
Roughly half of Republicans believe Trump won the popular vote — and would support postponing the 2020 election.
Nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote, which is similar to this finding. Larger fractions believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68 percent) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73 percent). Again, this is similar to previous polls.
Moreover, 52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this.
Not surprisingly, beliefs about the 2016 election and voter fraud were correlated with support for postponement. People who believed that Trump won the popular vote, that there were millions of illegal votes in 2016, or that voter fraud is not rare were more likely to support postponing the election. This support was also more prevalent among Republicans who were younger, were less educated, had less factual knowledge of politics and strongly identified with the party.
The Post notes that this is all a hypothetical. Neither Trump nor his p.r. person/informal advisor Fox News’ Sean Hannity who will telegraph Trump’s real views has suggested postponing the election (yet). But the Post notes the dangers this poll reveals:
Of course, our survey is only measuring reactions to a hypothetical situation. Were Trump to seriously propose postponing the election, there would be a torrent of opposition, which would most likely include prominent Republicans. Financial markets would presumably react negatively to the potential for political instability. And this is to say nothing of the various legal and constitutional complications that would immediately become clear. Citizens would almost certainly form their opinions amid such tumult, which does not at all resemble the context in which our survey was conducted.
Nevertheless, we do not believe that these findings can be dismissed out of hand. At a minimum, they show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied). And although the ensuing chaos could turn more Republicans against this kind of proposal, it is also conceivable that a high-stakes and polarized debate would do the exact opposite.
And here is a fact: this book published last summer needs to be read.
Copyright 2017 The Moderate Voice