By now we’re all too painfully familiar with the combination of cheats, crimes, and antics that put Donald Trump into office. There was the GOP voter suppression. There was the Electoral College wonkiness. There was the year and a half of systematic collusion with the Kremlin. But you know what? None of that actually worked.
Trump and his Republican Party spent the entire election cheating in every way they could, and yet eleven days before the election, he was still very much going to lose. At that point Hillary Clinton was ahead by eight points in the national polling averages. In hindsight we know that the polling averages were off by two points all along in Hillary’s favor, so she would have won by six points. That would have been enough to overcome all the cheating, and the Electoral College.
It was only Comey’s last minute letter, combined with all of the above things, that ultimately put him in office. That letter caused Hillary’s lead in the national polling averages to drop to four points (which still would have been enough to put her in office). She ended up winning the popular vote by two points, which turned out not to be enough.
But let’s examine the lesson here. We can see that it takes a major, varied, and sustained cheating effort just to move the needle by even a small amount. All of Trump’s cheating in 2016, and he was still on track to lose the vote by six points, and thus lose the election. Putin didn’t magically install Trump; Putin’s efforts would have failed, if not for Comey’s brain fart. So how do we overcome this? Voter turnout.
It’s easy to see that sufficient turnout is enough to overcome any cheating effort, no matter how strident. Sufficient voter turnout is enough to overcome the polls being wrong. Sufficient voter turnout is enough to overcome the Electoral College. And sufficient voter turnout is enough to overcome any last minute surprises. The only way Trump can cheat his way into a second term, or even luck his way into it, is if we let him by not getting out the vote in high enough numbers.
There are still five or six different people who could conceivably be the 2020 Democratic nominee. I happen to think that some of them are infinitely better than others. So do you. It’s fine to share your views about why you think this person should be the nominee, or why that person shouldn’t be the nominee. But once we have a nominee, we’d all better get behind that nominee and drive turnout through the roof. At this point a bag of fire ants would make a far better president than Donald Trump, and we all know it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report