The assumption that Republicans will remain in thrall to Donald Trump could be misplaced
Appalling as it has been to witness an American president try to steal an election, Donald Trump’s efforts have amounted to less than the best-informed prognosticators feared. Back in June a bipartisan group of over 100 political operatives and scholars, gathered by the Election Integrity Project, war-gamed the aftermath of four scenarios: an unclear result, a narrow win for Joe Biden, a clear victory for Mr Trump and the same for Mr Biden. Only in the last simulation was America spared authoritarianism by Mr Trump, a constitutional crisis and street battles.
Mr Biden’s actual winning margin was at the outer edge of a “clear victory”. And the president’s response to it has been even wilder than the war-gamers envisaged. (They did not imagine, in such an event, that he would try to coerce Republican state legislators to overthrow the results.) Yet none of the other features of the Trump coups they envisioned has materialised. Attorney-General Bill Barr has gone to ground. High-powered conservative lawyers have taken a pass on the president’s bogus fraud claims.
Hence the ridiculous Rudy Giuliani, dripping sweat and hair dye and ranting about George Soros and Hugo Chávez, has been the spear-point of Mr Trump’s attempted heist. It has been laughable, a shambles. It has also illustrated—yet again—Mr Trump’s iron grip on his party, to the extent that most commentators seem to think the Republican nomination for the 2024 election is already his for the taking. They could be right. But Lexington is sceptical.