ChrisWeigant.com

What Will Trump Do If He Loses?

[ Posted Thursday, May 21st, 2020 – 17:19 UTC ]

There's a very big question looming in the backs of many Democrats' minds; one so downright scary that few can even give voice to it. When they do, it comes out almost as a whisper, because the possible consequences are so frightening to contemplate that many feel it is a subject best left unsaid. But that doesn't stop the worrying, because nobody truly knows what Donald Trump will do if he loses the 2020 presidential election.

The reason I'm choosing to write about this subject now is that Trump himself seems to be pre-emptively getting his excuses ready for what could be a very disappointing election night for him. He's preparing the ground for later claiming that the entire process was rigged and that the results must be challenged. Why else would he now be threatening battleground states that are moving to make mail-in balloting more accessible and easy? Trump hasn't uttered a peep (or even a tweet) about the Republican states that are doing exactly the same thing that Michigan and Nevada are now doing, proving that this isn't an ideological issue for him, but rather a tactical one.

Many months ago, some Democrats had already begun saying that Trump needed to be beaten in an absolute blowout, because that would be the only thing precluding him from pulling a major hissy fit over the results. If the race was in any way close, this line of thinking went, then Bush v. Gore would seem like a picnic, by comparison. And that was before the viral pandemic struck.

As with the 2016 election, it'll all come down to the Electoral College. Assuming for the sake of argument here that Biden does beat Trump (which I hasten to point out is in no way a foregone conclusion), how many states will provide the margin of victory and how big will those individual margins be? In 2016, as many have since pointed out, a shift of only 70,000 votes in three Midwestern battleground states would have changed the Electoral College outcome, and Hillary Clinton would now be running for re-election. That's pretty close, as presidential victories go. Trump, of course, has pretended that he won "a landslide" that was historic (or possibly even epic) in nature, but this wasn't even remotely true. It was close, although not as close as the Bush v. Gore election, which hinged on a single state (Florida's notorious hanging chads). In 2000, challenging the results was fairly easy for Bush to do, since the Florida vote was so close and since flipping Florida would have changed the Electoral College result. There was a singular focus, in other words.

What will Trump do if Joe Biden is proclaimed the victor on election night? Judging from past behavior, he's not very likely to gracefully concede defeat with a gracious phone call to Biden in the wee hours of the night. Instead, he will quite likely start blaming everything and everyone he can think of (other than himself, of course, since he can never do any wrong in his own mind). That's pretty much a given. But the real danger lies in whether Trump actually accepts the results as valid or not.

What if it does come down to very close margins in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania? Or, for that matter, any other combination of a handful of states where Trump loses (but not by that much)? The election is almost certainly going to be affected to some degree or another by the pandemic (which will hopefully be minor, but could possibly be major if a second viral outbreak wave is underway in the fall). This provides Trump a built-in scapegoat for any losses -- the election wasn't valid because his people somehow couldn't vote, therefore it must be thrown out or at the very least strenuously challenged in court. Democrats stole the election with all their fake votes, therefore Trump actually won. Anyone who cannot see either of these as possible outcomes just hasn't been paying attention to the last three-and-a-half years. Remember that right before the 2016 election took place, Trump was already teeing up all his conspiracy theories for why he lost. Turns out he didn't need to use them, but that didn't stop him from complaining about Hillary Clinton's clear popular vote victory, did it? He wanted everyone to believe that three million illegal immigrants decided to vote for Hillary, and thus he actually really won the popular vote. Remember that?

So what will he do if he loses this time around? The safe bet is that he'll throw a tantrum bigger than any he's thrown yet -- which is truly saying a lot, at this point. He'll latch onto one conspiracy theory or another (or possibly a whole bunch of interlocking conspiracy theories) which somehow explain how he managed to win a great victory even though his average job approval rating with the public has never topped 50 percent during his entire term in office. He may then demand that the entire Republican Party get behind his challenge of the election results, and he will almost certainly deploy legal teams to whichever states had the temerity to vote for his opponent. We may see multiple Bush v. Gore cases, all at once. And with Justice Fratboy now on the Supreme Court, any final legal result is possible.

Of course, this will all happen pretty fast, since the Constitution lays out the schedule for the transition of power. Some Democrats are even worrying that Trump will somehow find a way to postpone or call off the November election, but personally I can't believe he would be able to get away with such a breathtaking power grab. It's much more likely that the election does happen, Trump loses, and then refuses to accept the results.

So what would happen if he does challenge the election's outcome? What will his most rabid followers do next? We've already seen Trump actually cheer on protesters who show up at their statehouses heavily armed with assault weapons just because their governors have instituted emergency medical measures. What will Trump encourage his followers to do when his own future is at stake? If the message from Trump is: "This election is null and void," then how big a step would it be for Trump to egg on "patriots" who decide to "fight back" against a "rigged election"? This is why the entire subject of what Trump would do if he loses is such a scary one. Never before has the president used the bully pulpit to, essentially, incite rioting -- but that's certainly a possibility with this particular president.

Hopefully, saner heads will prevail. Hopefully, Jared and Ivanka and all the others close to Trump will talk him down off the ledge. Hopefully the Republican Party will refuse to enable Trump's worst impulses. But at this point, these are only hopes, and not certainties. In the end, the only thing which may preclude Trump from declaring the election invalid is a blowout victory for Biden. If Biden wins by such a huge margin in the Electoral College -- including multiple battleground states where the margin of victory isn't even close -- then Trump can rant and rave to his heart's content and people will either just laugh at him or perhaps pity him (for being such a sore loser). If Trump loses across the board, then no amount of conspiracy theorizing is going to sound even remotely plausible to any reasonable person.

Of course, all of this is sheer speculation, but it is not entirely baseless speculation. After all, with Trump, almost anything is possible. There is no political norm he is unwilling to destroy -- he's shown that over and over again. America prides itself on a peaceful transition of power after a national election, but this could be just one more thing Trump throws on the Dumpster fire to boost his own ego. When he is already lining up his scapegoats and excuses -- over five months before the election actually happens -- it's pretty easy to see that he's at least contemplating what he will do if he loses in November.

There's only one thing, at this point, that I would bet the farm on, and that is that if Trump is defeated by Biden (and if the courts back Biden's victory up no matter how many lawsuits Trump attempts), then Donald Trump will refuse to attend Biden's inauguration in person. He will sulk in the White House for his final hours as president, refusing to attend Biden's swearing-in. The last time a Republican president attended a Democratic inauguration (in 2009), George W. Bush was greeted by the crowd (which was enormous, by the way) with a spontaneous rendition of: "Na na na na / Na na na na / Hey hey hey / Goodbye!" One can only wonder how Trump will be greeted by Biden's inaugural crowd. There will doubtless be a lot of dancing in the streets, that much seems certain. Which brings up the real reason why I am certain Trump will not attend -- because Biden's crowd is quite likely to be a whole lot larger than the pathetic turnout Trump saw. And remember how annoyed Trump got at that? So why would he put himself through the humiliation of seeing with his own two eyes what size crowd Joe Biden pulls?

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

30 Comments on “What Will Trump Do If He Loses?”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If!?

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM [1] -

    Heh.

    -CW

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, here's an apology and a request:

    I used a cop-out in this article by saying "some Democrats were saying" because I know one particular Democratic officeholder said it, but could not track it down by searching for the phrase (not sure whether they said "blowout" or "landslide," for instance).

    So does anyone remember maybe 6 months ago hearing some Dem say this? Who was it? I remember it as being Schumer, but I could very easily be wrong about that. Since I couldn't track it down, I had to go with the "some people are saying" dodge, for which I apologize.

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @cw/liz,

    even with all that donald has currently stacked against him, and it pains me to say this, but biden winning is STILL a big if.

    JL

  5. [5] 
    Kick wrote:

    What will Trump do if he loses?

    1. Answer the phone; it will be Vladimir Putin.
    2. Supplicate
    3. Follow instructions

    I used a cop-out in this article by saying "some Democrats were saying" because I know one particular Democratic officeholder said it, but could not track it down by searching for the phrase (not sure whether they said "blowout" or "landslide," for instance).

    So does anyone remember maybe 6 months ago hearing some Dem say this?

    Nancy Pelosi... about a year ago, give or take. She genuinely did not want to impeach Trump... said something about impeaching him would be falling into his trap. It was after the midterms but before Trump left her no choice but to impeach him. She said Democrats needed to win in 2020 by a margin so big that Trump can't challenge it.

    Since I couldn't track it down, I had to go with the "some people are saying" dodge, for which I apologize.

    No apologies. Be right back:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/04/us/politics/nancy-pelosi.html

    :)

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Goes without saying, Joshua.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm told the Dems are broken. Well, that's pretty obvious. Which means there is little capability or capacity for resistance. I'm also told that direct action is the answer.

  8. [8] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Chris [3],

    Nancy Pelosi, or Nancy, as I call her.

  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:

    Dipshit Donald was determined not to be seen wearing one. Somebody took a picture anonymously, though:

    https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/1263654664655994881/photo/1

    Now I ask you: How totally devoid of self-awareness does one have to be in order to go out in public near every damn day wearing a thick layer of brightly colored orange clown-like cosmetics yet not wish to be seen wearing a mask!? *falls to the floor laughing*

  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kick [5] -

    Thanks. I just knew I didn't imagine it!

    :-)

    -CW

  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kick [9] -

    Ahhh, but that's the whole problem...

    The mask would smear the makeup, which is why Trump has resisted it so fiercely. He probably demanded a "makeup retouching session" after having to wear a mask, that's my guess!

    Heh.

    -CW

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Ah-yup I just cannot put anything past Trump, because if he doesn't get reelected he can't run out the Statute of Limitations on all the prospective investigations by SDNY et al.

  13. [13] 
    andygaus wrote:

    He probably will opt out of the presidential debates, since he can't put himself in a situation where he isn't in a position to walk out when questions get too probing. He certainly won't attend the inauguration if he loses. And as for the investigations by the Southern District of New York, if we're lucky, he flees to Russia. If we're not lucky, he tweets to his Boogaloo Boys that it's time to begin a civil war to keep him from being captured.

  14. [14] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Sounds like the Dems NEED people like me and the many that stayed home or left their presidential vote blank in 2016.

    I may be the only one HERE that holds the big money Dems responsible for the deaths instead of just Trump, but I am not the only one in the country.

    I am not going to track it down, but I know that I said that one way for Biden to get people like myself to vote for him so he could achieve the blowout was to commit to running a small donor only campaign.

    If you are that worried about a close election, then do something about it by informing citizens how they can demand that Biden takes the action available that could earn the votes instead of hoping enough people only blame Trump and buy into the same old you have no other choice narrative that led to Trump being elected in 2016.

    You can either spend the next five months preparing for the close election which Trump could challenge or respond to the current challenge by demanding the Dems stop offering more of the same false big money choice that led to Trump and death and offer a real alternative that could lead to a better future.

    What possible reason could there be to not make this one demand of Biden and the Dems? Why can't they do this one simple thing that will make it possible for people like me to overlook all the deception of the last few decades and vote for Biden and the Dems?

    Why do you keep promoting more deception and more death?

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.
    Get real.

  15. [15] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    As Liz said: "direct action is the answer."

  16. [16] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    What makes you think there will be a crowd at the inauguration?

    And it seems Trump has a built in excuse for not showing up if there is a crowd considering the result the GWB got in 2009.

    Did you make them the MDDOTW the week for that?

  17. [17] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    I am less concerned with Trump's post election hissy fit than I am about what he will do once he accepts he's out. I expect corruption and malfeasance at levels never seen before with an out going president. Doubly so if the Senate flips. I would expect a lot of damage to be done in short order if Trump is out and Mitch is kicked back to the minority leadership...

  18. [18] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW
    10|11

    Thanks. I just knew I didn't imagine it!

    But of course you didn't just imagine it, invent it, or pull it straight out of your backside; that would make you a rightie. ;)

    Ahhh, but that's the whole problem...

    The mask would smear the makeup, which is why Trump has resisted it so fiercely. He probably demanded a "makeup retouching session" after having to wear a mask, that's my guess!

    Hey, that's what I said! *grins*:

    I haven't yet seen anybody state the obvious -- unless, of course, I missed seeing it -- but Donald's "complexion from a tube" isn't exactly amenable to having a mask rubbing all up and down on its oily orangeness.

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2020/05/09/ftp573/#comment-159132

    GMTA and now I can't say I haven't seen it! :)

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    14

    I may be the only one HERE that holds the big money Dems responsible for the deaths instead of just Trump, but I am not the only one in the country.

    I hold Don Harris responsible for every one of the deaths -- including every death in every country not named the United States -- for his utter failure at selling his "idea."

    I am not going to track it down, but I know that I said that one way for Biden to get people like myself to vote for him so he could achieve the blowout was to commit to running a small donor only campaign.

    Thank you for yet another demonstration of your lazy-ass inability to get your message out. It is this candy-ass inaction and lack of motivation that is definitely responsible for every single one of the deaths; we have your unmotivated lackadaisical indolence to thank for all of it.

    If you are that worried about a close election, then do something about it by informing citizens how they can demand that Biden takes the action available that could earn the votes instead of hoping enough people only blame Trump and buy into the same old you have no other choice narrative that led to Trump being elected in 2016.

    All of us on the blog including you have already been informed that this repetitive trolling of yours does not and will not motivate the author of this blog. My solution is that you read that paragraph of yours directly above a few times and see if it motivates you to get off your lazy ass and do what you're requesting the author to do. If you won't, then check your mirror for the stupid mofo who's refuses to rise to the challenge and get out the message.

    You can either spend the next five months preparing for the close election which Trump could challenge or respond to the current challenge by demanding the Dems stop offering more of the same false big money choice that led to Trump and death and offer a real alternative that could lead to a better future.

    You should report forthwith to the nearest mirror and be demanding that guy to accept your challenge... or eff right off. You decide.

  20. [20] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Regarding your thoughts that the president is already "pre-emptively getting his excuses ready for what could be a very disappointing election night for him", I thought you might like to read an analysis from the Weekly Sift (link given below) that takes the opposite tack: that the president is constitutionally (ha ha) incapable of thinking ahead to a further future than the next news cycle, and in fact has no idea that he will lose any more than he knows he will win. He just knows he wants to win, and does what he can to make that happen.

    So, this piece concludes, Trump will only start to panic about a probable loss around late October, when polling etc. will continue to show an electoral failure - and then it will be too late for him to plot or plan any way to avoid the defeat.

    To be honest, I don't know which direction to steer my heart and brain - yours or the Weekly Sift's. One is pessimistic, and one is slightly more optimistic.

    As many commentators have noted, despite this year's consistent state-by-state polling and the 2018 congressional election, liberals burned by the 2016 upset may be pessimistically gaming the 2020 election purely as a defensive mechanism. They want to avoid another psychological meltdown the day after the election - but by any reasonable standard of political thought, this president has no strong reason to expect re-election and Democrats ought to be fighting the campaign from strength, not self-imposed weakness.

    Here's the link: https://weeklysift.com/2020/05/18/trump-has-no-endgame/

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [13]

    Andygaus you're right. No debate, no Congressional testimony no harsh questions from our Press. Nothing that might stop or contradict the reality he's been selling his base for 5 years.

  22. [22] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [13]

    I'm not especially worried about any sort of pro-Trump civil War. The first couple of times any of our 2nd Amendment "Defend Liberty" nutjobs goes up against our militarized local and state law enforcement and gets effing wiped out will quiet such foolishness. I'd wanna get some popcorn and just watch, Mommy!

  23. [23] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [14]

    Brother Don wrote:

    If you are that worried about a close election, then do something about it by informing citizens how they can demand that Biden takes the action available that could earn the votes instead of hoping enough people only blame Trump and buy into the same old you have no other choice narrative that led to Trump being elected in 2016.

    K, you haven't convinced me that going "small doner" will attract enough additional electoral college votes to make spotting the Repugs a $400 million advertising funding advantage worth it.

    Wouldn't you agree that since bleeping Newt Gingrich set Congress afire back in the day that roughly 44% will always vote GOP and another 44% always Democratic? And the last 9th (11%) will tip the election by a combination of their votes and their failure to show up? Please convince me that if, say, Hillary ran a small doner campaign back in '16 that doing so would convert Repugs who'd been fed anti-Hillary for decades?

    I just can't see that.

  24. [24] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    And your lack of traction in this Comments section suggests that you might be more successful if you addressed this issue.

  25. [25] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [Again, don't tell the others because they might take advantage of me]... but I DO agree with you that ultimately the CMPs offer us two shitty choices (shades of Ralph Nader - woot!) and We the People take it up shorts, blah blah blah...

    But I'm willing to at least vote for a Corporatist Hillary-with-a-penis Joe Biden because it's likely that President Joe will be fighting of us Progs as much as the Repugs haha

  26. [26] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Oft times it's easier to effect change by working within the system... in the belly of the beast

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Corporatist Hillary-with-a-penis Joe Biden?...ooo maybe that's a tad bit strident

    Maybe

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Non-serious.

  29. [29] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    If I've understood your constitution thingy correctly, it's irrelevant what Trump says and does in the event of his almost certain drubbing come election day. Presidents don't actually give up power so much as they have their authority transferred to the incoming president. Nuclear codes and indeed overall command of the Armed Forces are automatically transferred, along with veto power, presidential decree, the power to pardon, use of Airforce one and most importantly, the Secret Service with its many duties are all stripped from the outgoing president, in favour of the incoming and their staff. Trump will be free to moan bitch about the outcome all the live long day, but it will amount to nothing more than a real-time justification for his democratic ouster at the hands of the 60-70 % of the electorate determined to see him gone. As for the Republican party rallying behind Trump, hoisting him aloft their shoulders to a few choruses of the Horst Wessel song in open defiance of the constitution, don't hold your breath. If the GOP have shown us anything over the last few years, it's that they are in lock-step with Trump while he has their constituencies under his sway. In defeat, their own skins will become the over-riding concern in their collective narrative and their allegiance to Trump, being Faustian at best, will have been dissolved by the same engine of change that triggers his jettison from office. They certainly won't throw themselves on the wire out personal fealty and love for a man, many of whom in their ranks consider a complete window licker and utter charlatan. The marriage of convenience will fall to dust, and I suspect Trump made the scapegoat, as the remaining GOP congressperson's endeavor to distance themselves from the preceding four years of life as lapdogs to a lecherous lothario.

    In any event, the denouement will soon be at hand, Trump will become more and more vulgar in his words and deeds as November, its first Tuesday and his complete and utter presidential debacle align to complete the circle of abject failure, Trump's only reliable truism.

    LL&P

  30. [30] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [17]

    BashiBazouk wrote:

    I am less concerned with Trump's post election hissy fit than I am about what he will do once he accepts he's out. I expect corruption and malfeasance at levels never seen before with an out going president. Doubly so if the Senate flips. I would expect a lot of damage to be done in short order if Trump is out and Mitch is kicked back to the minority leadership...

    This truly wouldn't surprise me, although it might be smarter if Trump does no such thing. If he's worried about impending investigations (now that he cannot run out the Statute of Limitations) he may not want to stoke the fires of public indignation against him.

Comments for this article are closed.