It was just noise when it started — Donald Trump spouting wild, unsubstantiated claims about election fraud, his lawyer seething at an almost comical press conference in the parking lot of a Philadelphia landscaping business.
But one week after an election in which Joe Biden received close to 5 million more popular votes than Trump and captured more than 270 electoral votes, the president and top Republican Party officials are nowhere near conceding.
And with his posturing — and statements of Cabinet officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — Trump is fueling a bonfire that’s consuming the GOP and disrupting the traditional transfer of power.
It will be nearly impossible for Republicans to alter the outcome or prevent Biden from taking office. Counting all the states where he currently leads in voting, Biden has 306 electoral votes. In Michigan, Biden’s lead at the moment is more than 10 times larger than Trump’s winning margin was there in 2016. To date, Trump’s campaign has yet to produce evidence in any state of the kind of widespread ballot fraud the president alleges.
Yet one week after the election, there is no sign any of that is sinking in. Instead, the controversy seems to be metastasizing within GOP circles, as the party unites behind an idea that threatens to distract Washington and state capitals for weeks amid an ongoing pandemic and a looming transition of government.
A majority of Republicans, according to new polling, are convinced the election wasn’t fair. Party officials are attacking one another for failing a litmus test of defending Trump’s interests. Lawmakers in Congress and states across the country are rushing to the cause.