No, President Trump has not conceded the presidential race. Despite the fact that Joe Biden was projected the winner on Saturday and delivered an acceptance speech, Trump and his associates continue to talk about fighting.
If you are asking: How could President Trump possibly think he can fight and win a race where his losing margin continues to get bigger as more ballots are counted?, it’s the wrong question.
There doesn’t appear any way that Trump can win a second term. Not through the courts and not through recounts. It’s over.
Yet by not conceding the obvious and still pledging to fight, Trump can actually do two other things, and he may continue the charade for a long time.
The first thing is this is about grabbing as much money as Trump can. Since the election, Trump established paperwork creating two committees and both have interesting fine print. One has the name “Election Defense Fund” but as The Wall Street Journal first reported, some 50 percent of the money raised into that account could be used to retire campaign debt and has nothing to do with legal procedures to challenge election results. Another committee, called “Trump Make America Great Again Committee” gives 60 percent of the money raised to the retirement of campaign debt and the rest to the Republican National Committee.
To be sure, raising money and holding pop-up press conferences around the country appear to be the extent of what the Trump campaign has been doing since last Tuesday. Their lawsuits keep getting dismissed, but how big of a priority is raising money? On Monday alone, there were 23 different e-mail solicitations for the Election Defense Fund.
And if they are getting money back every time they send an e-mail out, even if it is a small amount, what is the incentive to suddenly stop doing this?
On Tuesday, the fund-raising strategy shifted. Now, according to The New York Times, 60 percent of the donations will be earmarked for Save America, a political action committee that was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Monday. The person who registered the new committee, Bradley T. Crate, is Trump’s campaign treasurer. Trump can use the new political action committee to support candidates, pay for his travel, and his political staff.
The second thing to keep in mind is that the Trump campaign has a national platform right now to question a lot about election integrity. It may come off as sour grapes since they lost. It may undermine American democracy. But constantly repeating unfounded claims about widespread voter fraud, as Trump does on his Twitter feed, might be very effective at shaping voting laws in the future.
The 2020 election saw an estimated two-thirds of voters casting ballots early. That is unprecedented and, basically, it went off without a hitch. Naturally, the next discussion is whether to make the COVID-era temporary changes — like easy voting by mail — permanent because they appeared to be so popular.
Republicans have established they are no fans of voting by mail — even if they did pick up seats in the US House by using this method.
Already Senator Lindsey Graham connected Trump’s dispute with the election results to how elections will be conducted in the future.
“If we keep the Senate, we need to do a joint committee in the Senate to analyze mail-in balloting and how it worked in 2020," Graham said on Fox News radio Monday.
At the same time, Florida Senator Rick Scott, a Republican, just proposed a bill mandating all votes be counted within 24 hours of voting ending.
“As states pursue the expanded use of mail-in ballots, the VOTER Act will ensure the security, reliability and orderly conduct of federal elections,” said Scott in a press release. “The bill also creates a deadline for state election officials to tally and report the election results to avoid prolonged uncertainty in the outcome of a federal election.”
This will only be the beginning, especially as state house sessions start up next year. Legislators will no doubt address how voting is conducted one way or another.
If Trump were to call Joe Biden right now or tweet that he lost the election, Trump would be turning off the money spigot and moving the conversation away from baseless claims of voter fraud that could aid voter suppression efforts in the future.
James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell and on Instagram @jameswpindell.