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Trump supporters cling blindly to his refuted big lie

Their evidence-free allegiance to that untruth could be a boon to Democrats in 2024.

Then-attorney general Bill Barr told Donald Trump there was nothing to allegations that Dominion Voting Systems machines had switched votes in the 2020 presidential election.Ben Gray/Associated Press

Say this for Donald Trump’s Big Lie: If it were a cash crop, every farmer in America would want to devote their back 40 to its cultivation. Other deceptions wilt and wither under the drought of facts and the searing sunlight of truth, but not this hardy Jack and the Beanstalk whopper.

According to a new CBS News/YouGov poll, of the 58 percent of Republicans surveyed who declared they were voting for Trump in the 2024 primaries, three-quarters cited as one of their reasons their belief that he actually won the 2020 election.

Fact-free-faux-flam! Duped by the mud of a MAGA man.


Now consider some of the ways a politically astute voter should, by now, know that’s not true.

Let’s start with the declaration by Chris Krebs, Trump’s own election-security chief, that the election was secure and free of significant fraud. Trump of course fired Krebs, contending there had been “massive improprieties and fraud.”

Those who followed the hearings of the Jan. 6 committee realize that Trump was repeatedly apprised that wasn’t true but nevertheless continued to traffic in the lie. Then-attorney general Bill Barr had the Department of Justice look into the various allegations and bluntly informed Trump that the stolen-election allegations were, um, large-farm-animal-after-product. Barr also told Trump there was nothing to allegations that Dominion Voting Systems machines had switched votes. On their now famous phone call, Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger advised Trump of the same thing, noting that a hand re-tally and a recount in Georgia showed virtually the same result as Dominion’s machines.

After Barr resigned, deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue counseled Trump that allegations of major fraud in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Nevada were “not supported by the evidence.” Trump’s team hired two outside firms to examine various election-fraud claims; neither found evidence of results-altering fraud.


Even though Fox News helped sow the stolen-election lie, its top hosts knew or strongly suspected the claims were nonsense. The $787.5 million Fox paid to Dominion means they’ll never officially have to say they’re sorry — but that settlement is a virtual admission the cable network was spreading lies.

Out in Arizona, then-attorney general Mark Brnovich, a Republican, had his office do an exhaustive search for fraud. When it found little or nothing, he buried the results, but his successor has since made them public.

No surprise there. After all, the Cyber Ninjas, the firm that hopeful Arizona Republicans hired to audit the ballots in Maricopa County, confirmed Biden had indeed won the state’s most populous county.

The 64 lawsuits filed on Trump’s behalf alleging fraud? Sixty-three went nowhere. Meanwhile, as part of her defamation-lawsuit defense, attorneys for Sidney Powell said that “no reasonable person would conclude” that her claims “were truly statements of fact.”

A group of honorable conservatives who studied the claims made by Trump and his advocates concluded that “there was no fraud that changed the outcome in even a single precinct.” Which echoed an Associated Press investigation of every single allegation of swing-state voter fraud. AP found fewer than 475 instances of potential misdoings in those states, a tiny number.

Even poor pixilated Mike Lindell has seen his airy stolen-election assertions flattened the way a drop forge would a previously fluffy MyPillow. Last month, an arbitration panel concluded a skeptic had met the bar set in Lindell’s “Prove Mike Wrong” challenge and thus was owed the $5 million prize.


So why do so many conservatives cling to the stolen-election nonsense? Is it that they are psychologically unable to admit they got gulled?

It’s less complex than that, said retired psychology professor Robert Altemeyer, an expert on authoritarianism and coauthor with John Dean of “Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers.”

“It’s a world-class example of confirmation bias, the tendency to selectively expose oneself to information that shows we are right, and avoid things that indicate our ideas are wrong,” e-mailed Altemeyer. “If they hear that investigative journalists, judges, high-ranking Republican officials, even Tucker Carlson conclude Trump lost, they just don’t believe it. And if Fox News won’t tell them what they want to hear, then as Trump loyalists and faithful members of the In-group they will find someone who will.” (Read more on his website:

I find it stunning that so many Trump supporters still shrink from the obvious truth. Yet if Republicans do renominate for president a man who continues to lie about the 2020 election, it gives Democrats an opportunity to underscore all the ways his claim has been disproven. For those voters who are not MAGA but remain Trump tolerant, factual attack ads might be the ax that fells the beanstalk.


And to make this larger point to the nation: The violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol would simply never have occurred without Donald Trump’s outrageous lie.

Scot Lehigh is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him @GlobeScotLehigh.