Does Trump’s Acceptance of the Voter’s Decision Matter?
The mechanics of counting the votes, appointing the electors, and adding them up is determined exactly by law, and produces a winner. This takes place independent of the oversight or notification of any of the candidates, or their approval or acceptance. If some state’s results are within 0.5%, recounts are allowed, if needed. Mandatory recounts will be paid for by the state’s, and optional recounts can be paid for by anybody. If it comes down to a single very close state, as in Florida in 2000 in the Gore-Bush election, there will obviously be a contested recount, again with little direction from the candidates. Whether a candidate wishes to accept the results does not matter, a President is chosen by the process.
If Trump still does not “accept” the results, he will be considered differently by the different voting factions. Democrats, Independents and third party voters will consider him a sore looser, and question his commitment to the democratic process, as they do now. Republicans who voted for Trump only out of party loyalty or out of believing the continuing anti-Clinton rhetoric, may well also consider him a sore looser.
Most enthusiastic Trump supporters already consider that the election process will be fixed, and fixed against Trump. We have already written about how Republicans have “fixed” the vote in their favor by discriminatory voter ID laws, by banning felons, who are mostly blacks, from voting in the Southern states, by making polling booths scarce in inner cities, and by gerrymandering in Republican states. The ruling for unlimited PAC donations in Citizens United was supposed to help Republicans, but has failed Trump.
Considering the conviction of fixing by Trump supporters, nothing is really gained for Trump or his supporters by Trump’s refusing to accept the results. Trump’s growing conspiracy theory against him includes most of the media, international bankers, banks that refused to loan him money, women testifying against him, etc. (In ordinary people, this is called paranoia.). He does not have to convince his supporters, since for decades the Republican Party and Fox News have been telling them that government and the Democratic Party can never do anything right, and is always conspiring against them. Everything is a plot to just take their guns away from them.
After a year and a half of Trump tossing aside all polite, politically correct, and conventional political norms, what difference does it matter if he continues in this tradition. Trump uses the “suspense” of his results to keep the networks monitoring hours of his rallies, as they have his other phony announcements. Trump’s non-acceptance can keep his followers tuning into whatever network he establishes after the campaign, following his tweets, buying his hats, and staying at his hotels to make up for all of the people who have decided to avoid them.
If Trump really does reject the election results, the Republican Party and its representatives will be embarrassed. But, in any case, they will have to contend with many of their followers being Trump populists and blue collar workers, rather than representatives of the rich business class, banking class, and fossil fuel magnates. The Republicans have to face a desire for tariff barriers, with the many free trade agreements that they have backed.
Republicans also know that if they lose the Senate now, they will lose one Supreme Court replacement, but they have to retake the Senate in two years to cover any more openings. To do so, they will have to expand the Republican registration to the same groups that Trump has been turning away.