Former President Donald Trump's "big lie" — constructed with unfounded and baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election — has "metastasized" beyond the presidency and begun infecting lower-level Republican campaigns ahead of midterms, argues Politico.
In fact, even "rational" and "principled" individuals are being motivated to cry fraud because "that is the ante for contested Republican primaries and motivating the base in general elections," said Benjamin Ginsberg, an elections lawyer. "It comes at the expense of the principle that our leaders should not make allegations that corrode American democracy without any credible evidence."
"The fever has not broken," explained Ginsberg. "If anything, it's spreading."
Candidates are not just backing Trump's allegations, but "laying the foundation to repeat similar claims of their own," writes Politico.
Stephen Richer, the Republican recorder of Maricopa County, Arizona, said politicians are motivated by a "different set of Maslow's hierarchy [of needs]," in which "fundraising and followers" rank highly. "I think the 'Stop the Steal' crowd seemingly plays well for both of them," he said.
And it's not lost on some that these tactics could actually be undermining GOP chances by inadvertently encouraging voters to stay home — if the election is rigged toward the Democrats, why even show up? Still, it seems to be what voters want to hear.
"That's the double-edged sword," said John Thomas, a Republican strategist. "I don't think the Republicans have kind of cracked that nut or figured out how to solve that incongruity yet. It's hard. It's real hard." Read more at Politico.