“Joe Biden shouldn’t concede in any way because I think it’s going to go on forever, and ultimately I believe he will win if we don’t give an inch and are as focused and relentless as the other side,” Clinton longtime Democratic strategist Jennifer Palmieri told in an excerpt from Showtime’s “The Circus” released Tuesday.
Clinton added, “We have to have a massive legal operation, I know the Biden campaign is working on this. We need to have polling officers, and I urge people, who are capable, to be polling officers. We need to have our own teams of people to counter the intimidating force that Republicans and Trump are going to put outside the polls. It’s a big organizational challenge, but at least we know more about what they’re going to do. ”
What Clinton envisions is election night that could well drag into an election week or even – swallow! – one month of election, due to an expected increase in the postal ballot due to concerns about the coronavirus.
If the recent elections, especially in the adopted state of Clinton, New York, are any indication, there is a very real possibility that no winner will be declared on November 3 or November 4. And that the country will be in limbo, waiting to find out who will make him the next President of the United States.
Even with a semi-traditional president in the White House, this is an absolutely perilous situation. The most important part of an election is that people believe the vote was fairly counted and, whether they like the result or not, that it accurately reflects what the country wanted.
The longer you go without a declared winner, the more people will suspect that something bad could be happening – even if the delay is not just the result of slowness in counting a wave of mailed ballots.
Donald Trump is of course not a semi-traditional president. Or something close to it. In fact, he has spent the last few months suggesting to anyone who will listen to him that increasing postal voting would lead to a “rigged” and fraudulent election. (There is no evidence of the kind of widespread voter fraud in the mail-in ballot that Trump is alleging.)
“What they’re doing is using Covid to steal an election,” Trump told delegates to the Republican National Convention in Charlotte on Monday. “They are using COVID to defraud the American people, all of our people, from a fair and free election. ”
Also remember that Trump, immediately after the 2016 election, insisted that 3-5 million people voted illegally to explain why he lost the popular vote to Clinton. Trump has never provided any evidence for this huge claim. He hasn’t backed down in the three-plus years, either.
And it was an election he won!
Imagine what Trump could do this time around – assuming we don’t know who won on election night or even the next day. If it looks like he’s likely to lose, Trump would use the intervening hours / days / weeks to sow distrust of voting and contention in the country. He would suggest that the Democrats prepare the books, adding or subtracting votes as they see fit.
He would do absolutely everything in his power to make sure that even if Biden was declared the winner, say on November 7, part of the country would believe that the result was set and biased against Trump. And that, therefore, neither they nor Trump need to accept it. No need for Trump to concede. No reason for his supporters to recognize Biden as the fairly elected president.
Which brings me back to Clinton. She is, on the facts, exactly right in the advice she gives to Biden. With so many ballots mailed out, it was necessary to reckon in the days leading up to Election Day – and November 3 itself – it would be a political fault on Biden’s part to concede to Trump (or vice versa) if the election was clearly very close.
But you can be sure his comments will be taken by Trump’s White House as proof that Democrats are already working to lay the groundwork for a prolonged vote count because they believe it benefits them. (Clinton’s emphasis on how Biden will “eventually” win is the reddest red meat for the Conservatives.)
Because of all of this, I guess the Biden campaign would rather Clinton not offer his candidates advice on how to handle a close election. Even if she is right.