I don’t always agree with his takes, but I’ve been enjoying Tim Alberta’s dispatches from the campaign trail. His latest has some interesting speculation about how President Trump and Republican officeholders will respond to a Biden-Harris victory. He begins with a warning, “As the prospect of a Biden walkover has increased, so too has my pessimism about the president accepting the outcome.”
What I found most intriguing was Alberta’s prediction that the foulness of Trump’s reaction will be proportional to the degree to which he is humiliated:
Let’s be clear: There was never going to be a scenario in which Trump loses gracefully. This is a man who despite winning the presidency was so insecure about losing the popular vote that he concocted a fairy tale about 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots. This is a man who hates to be humiliated; whose response to being swept across the battleground map and getting pummeled in the popular vote could be far more vicious than his reaction to losing by respectable margins.
I can absolutely see the reasoning here, and I realize I’ve been harboring the hope that a blowout election that results in a quick call from the media will prevent a lot of nastiness. This may be delusional on my part, but I’m reassured that Alberta thinks it will have a positive byproduct:
But the question is not what the president will do; his vanity compels him to cry foul no matter the outcome. The more important question is how the Republican Party would respond to his loss. This is something GOP leaders are actively thinking about. And from what I can gather, it could very well represent the breaking point of Trump’s relationship with the GOP establishment.
One point that Alberta makes is that whatever remains of the GOP establishment after the election will by definition have just been victorious. They’ll have little motive to raise questions about the validity of the results. If there is some prospect that legal maneuvering could keep Trump in the White House, they might grudgingly go along, but they’ll be keen to move on from the president if it’s clear that he’s a dead duck.
Of course, it’s 2020, so we should expect everything to go sideways because that seems to be this year’s theme. The election results could take a long time to tabulate and it could be days or even weeks before the winner can be declared. I’d really like to avoid that mess and all the attendant stress, but it seems Trump will keep us on a white knuckle ride no matter what happens. As long as he loses, we can at least point to a date in the future when we can pay a lot less attention to him.