How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President

How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President

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  • It is increasingly looking as if Joe Biden can beat President Donald Trump in November.
  • The president seems more and more out of step with the national mood, from his handling of the pandemic to his response to racially biased policing, not to mention a wide array of other issues.
  • Even in key swing states, Trump is losing ground that will be difficult for him to make up.

For Trump, there are two broad pathways to maintaining power. First, we can already see very clearly a strategy designed to suppress voter turnout with the purging of registration rolls of large numbers of mostly urban voters; efforts to suppress mail-in ballots, which are more necessary than ever, given COVID-19; a re-election apparatus that is training 50,000 poll watchers for the purpose of challenging citizens’ right to vote on Election Day; and significant efforts to make in-person voting in urban areas as cumbersome as possible in order to have long lines that discourage people from exercising their voting rights.

The second pathway to subverting the election is even more ominous—but we must be cognizant of it because Trump is already laying the groundwork for how he can lose the popular vote, and even lose in the key swing states necessary for an Electoral College victory, but still remain president.

This spring, HBO aired The Plot Against America, based on the Philip Roth novel of how an authoritarian president could grab control of the United States government using emergency powers that no one could foresee. Recent press reports have revealed the compilation by the Brennan Center at New York University of an extensive list of presidential emergency powers that might be inappropriately invoked in a national security crisis. Attorney General William Barr, known for his extremist view of the expanse of presidential power, is widely believed to be developing a Justice Department opinion arguing that the president can exercise emergency powers in certain national security situations, while stating that the courts, being extremely reluctant to intervene in the sphere of a national security emergency, would allow the president to proceed unchecked.

Something like the following scenario is not just possible but increasingly probable because it is clear Trump will do anything to avoid the moniker he hates more than any other: “loser.”