The Corner

Politics & Policy

Every Losing Candidate Is Stacey Abrams Now


From the Daily Beast:

While the sheer number of groups and volunteers involved in the effort has given organizers hope, there is some fear that they may not all be operating from the same playbook. Two sources involved with the FBT [“Fight Back Table”] discussions said they worry Biden would concede a contested election too early, with an eye toward ensuring a peaceful transition of power. Inside the coalition, there is dispute over whether Biden should even concede if he wins the popular vote but loses the Electoral College, à la Clinton in 2016 and Gore in 2000.

Legally and constitutionally, if President Trump reaches 270 electoral votes, he wins and there’s nothing more to discuss. He will be reelected to another term as president. It doesn’t matter if Joe Biden formally concedes the race or not.

But a Biden refusal to concede the race — contending that Trump’s Electoral College victory is somehow nullified by the popular vote numbers — would probably add fuel to an already combustible set of circumstances in America. And the same goes for President Trump if his response to a loss is, “I really won, and the vote results showing that I lost are all faked,” or anything along those lines.

Any contentions like that from Trump or Biden would strengthen the toxic argument that candidates should concede only if they feel like they lost, instead of what the official vote tallies say. If a candidate has concrete evidence of voter fraud or other vote shenanigans, they can and should offer it. But we’ve seen a lot of embarrassed candidates put off their concessions, citing vague and implausible claims of “irregularities.”

In 2017, Alabama Republican Roy Moore refused to concede his Senate race; the official count showed Moore losing by more than 20,000 votes. Last year, incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin refused to concede the Kentucky gubernatorial race for a week. Earlier this year, Michigan Republican Mike Detmer and New York Democrats Suraj Patel and Michael Blake either refused to concede or did not concede for weeks after losing primary contests.

And then there is Stacey Abrams, who continues to insist she won the 2018 Georgia governor’s race.

On August 20, the Democratic Governors Association selected Stacey Abrams to moderate a roundtable discussion of Democratic governors. To the casual viewer, Abrams looked like a fifth governor in the discussion, joining Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

Losing candidates concede their races not because they’re such nice guys but because the functioning of the United States relies upon an orderly and legal transition of power — and the universal, or near-universal recognition of American elections as free and fair — which is not to say it’s perfect or without any errors. If Democrats want the presidential election to be decided by the popular vote, they should work on amending the Constitution.

In the scenario of Trump winning the Electoral College while Biden wins the popular vote, any Democratic elected official who contends that the Electoral College results should be ignored or waived and replaced with a standard that is not in the Constitution would be violating their oath to preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution.