Good Friday Morning, and welcome to election week, again. On the one side, you have Biden naming staff and talking to foreign leaders. On the other side, you have the Trump campaign insisting it still has a shot in various states. We’ll get to Trump’s path forward, as he’s currently fighting it in courts. But 2020 has a special way of always ensuring nothing is ever sure, and everything lasts.
Remember Amy Coney Barrett and Ruth Bader Ginsberg dominating the news? That was only a few weeks ago. I know I joked at the beginning of the Trump administration how years worth of news cycles would go by in a week, but that’s been doubly true with this election. Although waiting for every state to certify has slowed things down a bit.
We’ll get into whether or not Trump has a legitimate path forward and what that looks like below, as well as knocking out what won’t be a part of that path. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
Please subscribe, rate, and review my podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play — the reviews help listeners, and readers like you find me in the algorithms. Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter and become a subscriber at The Dispatch, where I’m a contributor.
2020 polls chose an outcome instead of seeking truth – The Conservative Institute.
Republicans are positioned to lead US House for the next decade – The Conservative Institute.
What is the signal and noise of election fraud?
“The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.”
“Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge: the serenity to accept the things we cannot predict, the courage to predict the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Nate Silver, “The Signal and the Noise: Why so my predictions fail, but why some don’t.” (2012)
So far, except for the last podcast episode, I’ve avoided writing about the 2020 election on the Presidential end. And the reason for that is that I can’t tell where we are on it. There are two problems: there’s a signal, and there’s noise. Do I think there are issues with the election? Yes. Do I think there’s enough proof to change the results we have right now that Joe Biden is President-Elect? No.
And there’s so much noise in trying to figure out what’s happening right now. There are so many conspiracy theories, fake pictures, memes, and more that make exact fraud allegations. And once you get through checking out which ones have merit and which ones don’t, you’re too exhausted to examine what’s left. The noise is exhausting. Finding the signal is borderline impossible.
I thought the best place to start this week is eliminating as much noise as possible. We’ll then see if there’s any signal left for Trump to pull off the one-in-a-million longshot of flipping the results of this election.
First, let’s list off some fact-checks of various conspiracies or fake news circulating on social media. I’ve seen some of these on social media; others have been sent to me via text/message. But I’ve seen almost all these in the wild. Since trust in media is low, I’m sticking more with Conservative Media to prove my point on the noise issue right now. So here are fact checks of things on social media:
- Is Dominion Voting Systems changing votes in its electronic? No — The Dispatch.
- Is that map on social media of states using Dominion Voting Systems true? No, it’s not. — The Dispatch.
- Did Edison Research Find That Dominion Deleted Trump Votes or Switched Votes to Biden? No — The Dispatch.
- Debunking the Hammer and Scorecard Conspiracy Theory: There is no evidence of a supercomputer changing Trump votes to Biden votes. – The Dispatch.
- Is Dick Cheney Advising President-Elect Biden? No — The Dispatch.
- Did the Washington Times Run a ‘President Gore’ Cover the Day After the 2000 Election? No. The Dispatch.
- Do Viral Videos Show Poll Workers Filling Out Empty Ballots? No. Workers are transcribing votes from damaged ballots onto clean ones, and they are being watched by bipartisan poll workers. – The Dispatch.
- Did Michigan’s Election Website Show Donald Trump Winning the State? Nope. The Dispatch. I was sent this one multiple times and verified this same conclusion.
- Does a Video Show Someone Burning Ballots With Votes for Trump? No. The Dispatch.
- Did Trump secretly put watermarks on mail-in ballots to prove some ballots were fraudulent? No. This is a QAnon conspiracy theory sourced solely from those groups on social media. — USA Today.
- Did Wisconsin Turnout Exceed the Number of Registered Voters? No. The Dispatch.
- Have 40,000 Absentee Ballots Been Rejected in One Georgia County? No. The Dispatch.
- Did Michigan ‘Magically’ Find 138,339 Votes for Joe Biden? No. The Dispatch.
- Did Arizona Poll Workers Give Out Sharpies To Prevent Votes From Being Registered? The state’s tabulating machines can read Sharpie ink just fine. – The Dispatch.
- Did a Poll Worker in Pennsylvania Throw Away Trump Ballots? The Erie County Voter Registration Office says the man behind a viral post is not registered in the state. The Dispatch.
That’s fifteen different fact checks on stories I’ve seen frequently on the right. And if you don’t buy those fact checks, here’s the ultimate kicker with all of them: the Trump campaign hasn’t brought up a single one in any lawsuit. These are not allegations entering a courtroom. They’re the definition of fake news.
Can that change? Sure. If that changes, it means the Trump campaign has actual evidence — which does not exist in a single one of the viral social media posts to any of the above claims — and they can convince a court of law. That does not exist right now for those claims. Everything above, and most of the things related to the above, are noise.
Where does the Trump campaign have a real chance? Or, where is the signal of where they could have a shot?
You have to start in Pennsylvania. That’s the only place where the Trump campaign has legitimate lawsuits and — most importantly — the law is on their side. There are at least two lawsuits where they have a good case. The leading case, you know, because it will likely involve the Supreme Court. The other lawsuits do not.
The latest state case involves a ruling that came down Thursday from a state judge. Fox News:
A Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of the Trump campaign Thursday, ordering that the state may not count ballots where the voters needed to provide proof of identification and failed to do so by Nov. 9.
State law said that voters have until six days after the election — this year that was Nov. 9 — to cure problems regarding a lack of proof of identification. After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots could be accepted three days after Election Day, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar submitted guidance that said proof of identification could be provided up until Nov. 12, which is six days from the ballot acceptance deadline. That guidance was issued two days before Election Day.
“[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline … for certain electors to verify proof of identification,” Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said in a court order.
It is unclear how many ballots are impacted by this ruling or whether they are in the current tally. The Trump campaign has several other challenges before Pennsylvania courts. These are separate from the one that involves late votes. All these lawsuits involve ballots that fail to meet specific criteria. The late ballots case is expected to go back before the Supreme Court and allegedly involves around 10,000 votes.
At the time I’m writing this, Biden currently has around a 55,000 vote lead on Trump, and that could grow as PA finalizes its vote counts in various counties. Invalidating that many ballots is a tall order. It’s unclear how many votes are involved in all the lawsuits. We won’t know that until the dust clears.
The second area where the Trump campaign has a legitimate lawsuit is in Michigan. The problem here is that it’s impossible to separate fact and fiction in this mess. There’s a lot of noise in this lawsuit too. The Trump legal team released 234 pages of affidavits in this case. I can’t summarize or go through them. Leon Wolf at the Blaze tried to do that and linked to the affidavits if you’re really curious. Some of his impressions after reading through everything:
This list constitutes the entire body of potential actual fraud allegations raised in the affidavits. The testimony contained in these affidavits clearly pertains to fewer than 1,000 total ballots, although it should be noted that numerous affiants complained that they were not able to see what was happening because they were required to maintain six feet of social distance or because people were in their way.
Some (most?) of the allegations in the affidavit concern allegations that GOP poll watchers were treated differently (worse) than Democratic poll watchers, or that the majority of the people in the room were Democrats or were friendlier to the Democrats. Although these allegations are at least potentially relevant politically (albeit they are not tremendously surprising in Wayne County), they do not directly pertain to the issue of voter fraud, so I have not included them in this list, although you may certainly peruse them and draw your own conclusions.
The material in the affidavits alleging an “atmosphere” of intimidation and hostility toward the GOP poll workers is voluminous. I would estimate that it constitutes a significant portion of the material in the affidavits. I have not repeated most of it here because it does not directly establish or allege voter fraud.
The problem in Michigan is one of math. Biden’s lead is just under 150,000 votes. The odds of ballots getting struck down in that quantity are slim to none. You’d be better hoping that Michigan just stashed Trump votes somewhere that could get counted and flip the totals.
There’s a lot of dust, mud, and noise in Michigan. It’s unclear if there’s any fire to the smoke up there. And it will take a few days for the judge to work through these claims and both sides to argue back and forth.
Arizona, Georgia, and Math.
The real problem is this: Biden holds slim leads in Arizona (11 electoral votes) and Georgia (16 electoral votes). Biden doesn’t need either to get to 270, but if Trump can’t swing the three Midwest states (PA, MI, WI), he has to have both AZ and GA. As I’m writing this, Trump is losing by roughly 14,000 votes in Georgia, and they’re going to a hand recount. I can’t emphasize how insane what Georgia is doing. From the AJC:
By ordering a statewide hand recount of every ballot in the presidential race, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger combined different parts of recount and audit procedures.
His decision will result in a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that’s never been attempted before. Raffensperger said it will be worthwhile if it builds confidence in the election, where Joe Biden was leading Donald Trump by over 14,000 votes.
The count will be conducted under Georgia’s rules for election audits, but not as envisioned when those rules were drafted.
The audit rules call for a random sample of ballots to be pulled, and the text or bubbles to be reviewed and counted. The audit would have concluded when all ballots were counted and the odds that the full tabulation was incorrect was less than 10%, according to State Election Board rules.
But instead of pulling a smaller sample of ballots, Raffensperger plans to audit every ballot. The sample would have had to be over 1 million ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office, so Raffensperger decided a full count was justified given the closeness of the race.
If that count goes back to Trump, expect litigation from Biden since it’s unclear whether this hand recount will be legitimate. The same goes for Trump.
Arizona is a different problem. They haven’t finished their counting yet. As I’m writing, late Thursday, Biden is holding onto an 11,034 vote lead. There are approximately 16,500 votes left to count statewide. Everyone has, correctly, called Arizona for Biden at this point because it’s unlikely the rest of those ballots come back all for Trump and flip the lead. The question is whether or not a recount would change things.
Republicans are mad that “Maricopa County GOP chairwoman resigns after Democrats reveal she skipped election machine test.” I’m not sure if we’ll see Republicans push for a second test or not. But that’s caused more conspiracies to arise. The GOP no-showing the testing event isn’t a good thing, but I’m unsure if the Trump campaign can change anything there.
That brings us here. For Trump to win this race, you’d need proof of historic levels of fraud. And there’s no proof of fraud in any case the Trump campaign has brought before a judge. Social media is rife with fake news claiming there’s proof. But there’s nothing you can point to and say, “these ballots must be invalidated.”
Trump’s simple path forward requires winning Arizona and Georgia, both of which he’s losing. If he somehow pulls that out, then the focus immediately shifts to Pennsylvania because that’s the one state that puts him over the top. But all the lawsuits in Pennsylvania mean nothing unless you score victories in Arizona and Georgia (or MI and WI). We’ll see where things stand at the end of these recounts and finalized vote counts, but Trump’s odds of pulling this out are under 1% at this rate.
These aren’t large margins, by any stretch. But they aren’t small either. The margins are close enough that Trump has a shot but also big enough to mean technicalities and recounts don’t get you there. If AZ and GA are out of the equation, then the race is over, and Biden has won. What Trump needs are recounts to get him across the line in AZ/GA, and then hope PA’s lawsuits bring that state back to him.
All Biden has to do is sit back, watch, and react. His paths to victory are numerous, and he can, rightly, act as the President-Elect. As I’ve written in my columns, Republicans have won across the country. This isn’t a lost election if Biden wins. I get why people are holding onto hope, which is fine while we await certifications. But time is short, and this process will wrap up quickly. If Trump has evidence, he’d better find it quick.
Links of the week
Justice Department probe ends with no action against prosecutors who oversaw Epstein deal “Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn’t ‘poor judgment’ – it is a disgusting failure,” said Sen. Ben Sasse. – NBC News
What Redrawn Districts Could Mean for House Control in 2023 – Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics
BIGGEST LOSERS: Lincoln-Themed Liberal Super PAC (Lincoln Project) Goes 0-7 in Key Senate Races – The Washington Free Beacon
Bush v. Gore didn’t overturn anything – The Washington Examiner
The year of the Republican woman – The Hill
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Democrats Propose Sending Republicans To ‘Unity Camps’ – The Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!