The 2020 election results just seem off. Republicans picked up seats in the House, held onto the tight races in the Senate, but lost the presidency*. According to preliminary results, Joe Biden narrowly edged out President Donald Trump in the swing states but won a blowout in the popular vote — with nearly 80 million votes. On its face, this does not seem plausible, and that implausibility fuels conspiracy theories.
In one sense, it is absolutely implausible that the elderly, muddled, gaffe-ridden Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., who spent many days in the critical lead-up to Election Day confined in his basement, would defeat the energetic Donald Trump, who jetted across the country for rally after rally and whose campaign mobilized a historic get-out-the-vote effort despite a global pandemic.
Yet the aspect of the election that strikes many conservatives as the most off may indeed be the part that makes the most sense. As the results rolled in on Election Day, President Trump enjoyed a strong lead over Biden in many swing states, only to find those leads vanish in the hours and days afterward.
That seems strange, but it actually makes sense. You see, Biden encouraged his supporters to vote by mail, even though mail-in ballots open a Pandora’s Box of fraud. Trump told his supporters to vote in person. Because many states count in-person Election Day votes before they count mail-in ballots, Trump’s early lead makes sense, but the way the results came out fueled conspiracy theories about election fraud.
I am not disputing that many irregularities did happen, and I think the Trump campaign’s claims need to be seriously considered. The campaign claims to have enough evidence to erase Biden’s leads twice over, and I welcome the litigation of that evidence.
But I must insist that at least one of the reasons conservatives find the 2020 presidential election results implausible is mistaken. Biden’s seemingly late gains in the polls made sense — even if it does not make sense that this doddering dinosaur prevailed against Donald Trump.
Yet Trump’s loss also seems implausible to me because I have been covering the positive results of his presidency for the last four years — positive results that often do not see the light of day in the legacy media. Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, and he moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. These policies led to historic peace deals that did not get the coverage they deserved. Trump restored the federal government to sanity by rejecting “white privilege” trainings and transgender identity, but many media outlets covered these developments as if they were negative.
Trump restored the federal judiciary after decades of leftist activist judges. He fought China on trade. He partnered with the private sector to fast-track ventilators, coronavirus medicines, and historically-fast vaccines. He also proved to be the most pro-life president in American history, and the first to attend the March for Life in person.
Yet each of these positives, which convinced me — a fervent Never Trumper in 2016 — to vocally support the president in 2020 were lost on much of America.
Many listened to the legacy media’s constant drumbeat of negative coverage, and Trump’s overly aggressive rhetoric, especially on Twitter, fueled the lies about him.
Much of the country absolutely loathes the president, and millions would vote for a zombie in his place. It seems they got the next best thing.
So Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. seems to have beaten him. Biden ran as a “moderate” in the primary — even while embracing crazy radical positions he had spent decades fighting against in the Senate (see “the Hyde Amendment”). He won the primary when the Democrats grew terrified of nominating open “democratic” socialist Bernie Sanders. Then Biden campaigned hard-left in the general election. He worked with Sanders on policy. He worked with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). He promised to be the most “progressive” president in history.
A student of Politics 101 would predict that such a campaign would flop, miserably. Rushing to the left in the general election is a horrific strategy, but it “worked” for Biden. Calling “lids” in the weeks before an election is a horrific strategy, but it “worked” for Biden. Holding a Democratic National Convention with barely a mention of policy is a horrific strategy, but it “worked” for Biden.
Yes, this seems rather queer. Yet the commanding heights of American culture were dead-set against Trump. The legacy media, Hollywood, most university professors, all sorts of professional associations, even Scientific American, endorsed Biden because he wasn’t Trump.
Is Joe Biden’s victory* plausible? I really can’t say. It’s not plausible at all, and evidence suggests election shenanigans may have had a role. But then again, a mountain of leftist lies will certainly have consequences.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.