The Big Lie

The Big Lie:
Biden was not legitimately elected president
  • Donald Trump, months before and months after the election:
    • On July 30, 2020
      • “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
    • On June 5, 2021
      • “The 2020 presidential election, that election, the 2020 presidential election, was by far the most corrupt election in the history of our country,”
    • On September 25, 2021
      • “We won on the Arizona forensic audit yesterday at a level that you wouldn’t believe.”
      • “They had headlines that Biden wins in Arizona when they know it’s not true. He didn’t win in Arizona. He lost in Arizona based on the forensic audit.”
Trump’s Claims of Election Fraud in Earlier Elections
  • 2016 Primary
    • Ted Cruz in Iowa
      • Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!” WaPo
  • 2016 General Election
    • New Hampshire
      • The president claimed that he would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” of people who were “brought in on buses” from neighboring Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire. Politico
    • Popular Vote
      • “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” WaPo
      • Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Wikipedia
2/3 of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected

66% of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected AP/Norc Poll, July 2021

Image Credit AP/Norc Poll,

Most Republicans say Biden did not legitimately win the election and that there’s solid evidence he didn’t. WaPo, September, 2021

Image Credit: Philip Bump, WaPo

Who Believes the Big Lie
  • Trump True Believers Have Their Reasons, Thomas Edsall NYT
    • Just who believes the claim that Donald Trump won in 2020 and that the election was stolen from him?
    • Three sources provided The Times with survey data:
    • With minor exceptions, the data from all three polls is similar.
    • Alexander Theodoridis, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, summed it up:
      • About 35 percent of Americans believed in April that Biden’s victory was illegitimate, with another 6 percent saying they are not sure. What can we say about the Americans who do not think Biden’s victory was legitimate? Compared to the overall voting-age population, they are disproportionately
        • white
        • Republican
        • older
        • less educated
        • more conservative
        • more religious (particularly more Protestant and more likely to describe themselves as born again).
    • P.R.R.I. also tested agreement or disagreement with a view that drives replacementtheory, that:
      • “Immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background”
    • They found that 60 percent of Republicans agreed, as do 55 percent of conservatives.
    • The Reuters/Ipsos data showed that
      • 69 percent of white Republicans without college degrees agreed “that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump,”
      • 51 percent of white Republicans with college degrees agreed, and
      • the level of this belief remained consistently strong (over 60 percent) among Republicans of all ages living in rural, suburban or urban areas.
Republican Politicians on the Big Lie
  • Most Republican politicians say at least one of the following about the election:
    • the election was stolen
    • there were many irregularities and questions that need to be addressed
    • people have a lot of concerns about the integrity of the election
    • the election reinforces the importance of election integrity
    • we need to allay people’s doubts about the election.
  • Republicans’ conflicting message: Embracing Trump election lie is key to prominence, just stop asking us about it WaPo
    • Geoff Kabaservice, who chronicled the transformation of the GOP in his 2012 book, “Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party,” said of Republican party members that:
      • “These people are afraid of their base. They know that if they actually come out and forthrightly tell these 70 percent of Republicans who believe Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election, that the base will turn against them, that they’ll end up with a primary challenge, Trump himself will get involved and they’ll lose and they’ll be out of politics.”
  • Liz Cheney (R-Wyo)
    • “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” USA Today
  • Rep. Claudia Tenney (R.-N.Y.), asked in an interview with The Post what she thought about Cheney’s statement that it is a lie to say the election was stolen, responded:
    • “I think there are a lot of irregularities and questions that need to be answered. I don’t know why anybody would reject an audit. We need to go back and look at whether or not things were done properly, why rules were changed at the last minute.” WaPo
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
    • “Yeah, he’s the president. I’ve said that all along … I do think we should look at the election results, but yeah, he’s the president of the United States.” WaPo
  • Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.)
    • Said it is a “gotcha question” to ask whether Biden was legitimately elected. He said that he does believe Biden is legitimate, “but it’s also true that many of us have concerns about how the election was conducted in November, and the country demands a debate about election integrity, and we shouldn’t shy away from that.” WaPo
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.)
    • Said many Republicans want to focus on “election irregularities. There are a lot of things that people are still pursuing — I think they should pursue them to their conclusion.” WaPo
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)
    • “All right, I just want to check something,” Greene said. “I just want to make sure I’m in the right place. Tell me. Who is your president?”
    • The crowd shouts, “Donald Trump!”
    • “That’s my president, too, OK,” she added. WaPo
  • Disinformation is dangerous
    • “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” — Voltaire
  • Disinformation works
    • It can lead people to do what they otherwise would not do, e.g. change the vote count.
  • View Disinformation
Voting Rights Lab Report
  • A Threat to Our Democracy: Election Subversion in the 2021 Legislative Session, September 29, 2021Voting Rights Lab (The Voting Rights Lab is a nonpartisan organization that brings state advocacy, policy, and legislative expertise to the fight for voting rights.)
    • Election subversion bills have either been enacted or seen significant momentum in key battleground states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and others. Taken together, these actions – legislative and otherwise – threaten to inject partisanship where it never belongs: into our election systems themselves. This dangerous crop of legislation has driven toward several alarming outcomes:
  1. Increased Partisanship in Election Administration
    • Seventeen state legislatures have introduced bills that would allow the legislature or other partisan actors to exert greater control over the conduct of elections, or that would otherwise interfere with local election administration. In the most extreme cases, partisan actors could usurp the role of state or local election officials, or simply certify the winner of their choice in a given election.
  2. Partisan Election Reviews
    • At least seven states have initiated or are trying to initiate reviews of the 2020 election despite a lack of evidence of wrongdoing. Generally, these investigations would be conducted by partisan actors or third parties hired by partisan actors.
  3. Criminalization of Election Officials & Civil Causes of Action
    • Sixteen state legislatures have introduced legislation threatening election officials with felony prosecution, or creating misdemeanor penalties for even inadvertent, technical noncompliance with election rules.  Other states have introduced legislation creating civil causes of actions and penalties for election officials. The threat of financial or criminal sanction will likely deter local officials from taking necessary action to ensure voters have sufficient access to the democratic process — and will accelerate the mass exodus of experienced election officials.
Restrictive and Expansive Laws
  • Between January 1 and September 27, at least 19 states enacted 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote.
  • Between January 1 and September 27, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws with provisions that expand voting access.