It may not feel like it, but Sunday marks one year since the Associated Press called Pennsylvania and the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden.
Late morning on November 7, 2020, the AP’s call launched celebrations around the country by Americans relieved at Donald Trump’s ouster from the White House, even though the wire service’s proclamation actually came a few days after it had already become clear that Biden had easily defeated Trump in the electoral college.
In response to the AP, Trump, back when he was allowed on Twitter, tweeted that “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also.” Trump of course, had already wrongfully claimed victory on election night. And he continued to do so, in an attempt to deny the reality of his defeat that was pathetic but also sinister, part of a planned effort to cast the electoral into doubt and lean on state lawmakers, the Justice Department, and Congress to help him retain power.
Trump, of course, failed in his effort to remain president. But his effort still sort of worked.
The former president never produced a scintilla of evidence that voter fraud affected results in any state. In more than 50 lawsuits attempting to challenge the election results, Trump and his allies claims’ didn’t even argue fraud occurred, because they lacked evidence. Instead they tended to be objections to procedures adopted by states and counties that allowed voting during a pandemic. And all those failed.
But Trump’s supporters believed—and still believe—his lies. On January 6, thousands of them stormed the Capitol, some of them threatening to kill then–Vice President Mike Pence for fulfilling his wholly ceremonial role in certifying Biden’s electoral votes. Five people died that day.
Polls continue to show that a large majority of Republicans assert that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected President of the United States. In September, a Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll of US registered voters found that 70 percent of GOP voters believe, or claim to believe, the Big Lie, versus 22 percent who did not. Ninety six percent of Democrats believed Biden was duly elected. Similarly, a November 1 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 75 percent of Republicans say Trump has a legitimate claim that there were “real cases of fraud that changed the results.”
The most striking thing about these findings is that they are pretty much the same as polling in January. Eleven months of reporting on Trump supporters sacking Congress based on disinformation, and eleven months of debunkings and explanations of the lies that caused the attack, failed to move the needle.
Congratulations America. It’s been a year since Biden won, and Trump backers still won’t accept it.