What If Trump Loses And Won't Leave?

fivethirtyeight.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
For months now, President Trump has carefully planted the seed that he might not leave the office of the presidency willingly if he loses. Whether it's tweeting…
For months now, President Trump has carefully planted the seed that he might not leave the office of the presidency willingly if he loses.

Whether it's tweeting that the election should be delayed as it "will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history" or that there will be widespread voter fraud because of the expected uptick in mail ballots due to the coronavirus, Trump seems intent on undermining the electoral process.

This, in turn, raises a rather thorny and unprecedented question: What happens if Trump won't go? The answer is bleak. Experts tell me that the president actually has a lot of power at his discretion to contest the election, and some of the scenarios that could bring us to the edge of a crisis are actually very plausible.

Consider this one: It's late on Election Day, and hundreds of thousands of votes in key battleground states still have to be counted due to the increased use of mail and absentee voting because of the pandemic. As a result, media outlets have largely avoided calling the race, but based on the votes that have been counted, Trump leads in enough states to reach at least 270 electoral votes, which would be enough to win the election if his election-night lead holds. Trump claims victory, but because Democrats were much more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, Joe Biden eventually pulls ahead because of the Democratic lean of the remaining votes — a phenomenon known as the "blue shift."

That's just one of the many scenarios the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan collection of over 100 experts, explored this summer while researching how a possible election crisis could unfold.

Rosa Brooks, a professor at Georgetown University Law School who co-founded the Transition Integrity Project, told me she and her colleagues weren't interested in predicting the likelihood of any one scenario they looked at, but more so in understanding the range of possibilities. Ultimately, they don't know to what extent this…
Geoffrey Skelley
Read full article