President Donald Trump has made his opposition to vote by mail clear, alleging that it could lead to an illegitimate election result, one that could anger his supporters, as Election Day possibly stretches into election week or beyond while ballots are counted.
But fresh polling and a new report out Thursday suggest Democrats could also be put in position to reject the outcome of the race if they believe Trump won unfairly.
According to a Monmouth poll out Thursday, 52 percent of voters say that the president will try to cheat if necessary to win reelection, with 38 percent saying this is very likely and 14 percent saying it is somewhat likely. Further, the poll found that “nearly all firm Biden supporters expect Trump to cheat (91%).”
The poll came on the same day a Microsoft report said that China, Russia, and Iran were engaged in suspicious activity to possibly influence the election, with China focusing its its efforts on hacking into the private email accounts of Biden campaign staff.
China’s efforts appear to be an attempt to recreate the success of “Guccifer 2.0” in 2016, in which hackers broke into Democratic National Committee email servers, which the Mueller report found to be a job orchestrated by Russian intelligence.
Some Democrats say Americans must be vigilant and ready to take to the streets if every vote is not counted and a free and fair election is not conducted.
“This is an issue that keeps me up at night,” Paola Mendoza, an activist and co-founder of The Women’s March, told Newsweek. “If that does not happen, if that process is not fair, we will absolutely take to the streets and absolutely demand that the president step down.”
Mendoza said she felt this way because of the prospect of foreign interference and because Trump is “making false claims that we shouldn’t trust the election results if we don’t get them the night of.”
She, like others who spoke to Newsweek, stressed that it is incumbent on the media to prepare voters for the likelihood that the winner of the election will not be known on November 3 because of outstanding mail-in ballots.
Other Democrats also emphasized that the importance of ensuring the election is fair and all votes are counted, but stopped short of saying voters will refuse to accept the results of the election if Trump is believed to have won illegitimately.
“There is a reason why they’re called the hawks and we’re called the doves,” said veteran Democratic strategist Albert Morales. “Yeah, they’ll protest, but I don’t see Democrats coming out in droves and going to Florida like Republicans did in 2000.”
Morales, who worked at the Democratic National Committee for years, was recalling the “Brooks Brothers Riot” of November 2000, a protest orchestrated by Republicans, congressional staffers, and lawyers two weeks after the election as Florida’s fate still hung in doubt. Echoing the familiar hyper-politicized nature of 2020, Republicans to this day still call it the “Brooks Brothers Rebellion.”
Brad Bauman, the former executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he does not believe voters will dispute the election, but told Newsweek some Republicans are actively trying to “manipulate the mechanics of the election” to get their desired outcome. He cited four conservative judges on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who halted the mailing of absentee ballots Thursday to decide if the Green Party candidate should be added to the ballot.
“To be honest on September 11, a day where we are all supposed to be thinking about this incredible attack on our way of life,” Bauman said, “I hope it’s also a day of reflection for folks who are trying to manipulate our elections, because the damage that they are doing stands in stark contrast to what the folks who died on 9/11 died for.”
Democrats argued that the president is making it seem like an election that took some time to be sorted out has never happened before in America, and that is not the case.
Beyond 2000, it was just two years ago in the 2018 midterm elections that pundits moved to shape a false narrative, before learning in subsequent days that the results were in fact different.
The former Bill Clinton strategist James Carville, for example, somberly assessed that “It’s not going to be a wave election.” Democrats, of course, did ultimately enjoy their “blue wave” once the votes were counted. Murshed Zaheed, a former Harry Reid senior aide, called Carville “a moron” for that bit of analysis.
“It’s really important for folks not to jump the gun early on election night,” he warned. “But if Democrats have to take to the streets to ensure every vote is counted, it’s not necessarily going to be about opposing particular results, but making sure American election officials are not engaging in any kind of systematic voter suppression.”