Donald Trump’s last ditch super secret evil plan is to falsely declare victory tonight. We know this because Trump and his henchmen keep publicly admitting that their last ditch super secret evil plan is to falsely declare victory tonight. Trump very often doesn’t go through with the things he publicly threatens to do. But what happens if he does try it?
The short answer is this: nothing happens. When a candidate declares victory, it carries zero legal weight. Nothing is triggered. Nothing changes. He can’t go into court and argue “I declared victory so I’m the winner” – this would get him laughed out of the building.
If Trump does falsely declare victory, it’ll be an attempt at bullying the media into going along with it. After all, if major news outlets like ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and the New York Times announce that the outcome has been determined, most average Americans are going to take that at face value. Then Trump would have momentum and public pressure going into court, which counts for a lot.
But the reality is that most major news outlets have already telegraphed their intention to refuse to allow Donald Trump to just “declare victory.” In fact a number of major news outlets seem to be openly salivating at the notion of getting to slap Trump down if he tries it. Fox News doesn’t count; that wouldn’t get him anywhere with anyone outside his base. And even Fox doesn’t want the egg on its face of calling the election for a guy who then went on to lose in a blowout.
While the media is overwhelmingly unlikely to let Donald Trump get away with falsely declaring victory, large chunks of the media will do whatever they can to scare you into staying tuned in until the winner is eventually determined. So our job is not to panic and spread toxic fatalism all over social media, any time a TV pundit says something scary sounding. Instead, our job is to work hard to drive voter turnout until the very last minute – and then to lean on the media to do the right thing during election coverage.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report