Talk radio hosts revive fraud lies as explanation for any fall election losses

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)

Apparently, President Donald Trump’s big lie wasn’t enough, no matter how many times his 2020 election-fraud claims have been debunked. Right-wing radio hosts around the country are planting in the minds of listeners the idea that Democrats cannot possibly win the elections this November without engaging in massive fraud — long before the ballots have even been printed.

The consistency of their fraud pronouncements, via rural and urban AM radio stations around the country, suggests this is coordinated, not the result of a miraculous coincidence. The fact that anyone feels the need to concoct such an evidence-free narrative underscores Republicans’ own insecurity and inability to motivate voter support with a substantive platform of new ideas.

They also seem to ignore the very real possibility that voters, including moderate Republicans, might actually be choosing to support candidates other than the extremist slate offered by the GOP.

Certainly, voters in some heavily gerrymandered districts will choose the likes of Illinois Rep. Mary Miller or Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene despite their penchant for tasteless gun rhetoric or occasional anti-Semitic slurs. But Republican extremism is the culprit driving more and more voters away from the GOP.

More:Pa. lawyers in Donald Trump's election fight slapped with ethics complaints

More:Fight over 2020 election records lands in Pennsylvania court

More:Georgia subpoenaing Giuliani, Graham in Trump election probe

The reasons are ample: Ongoing revelations by the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection have shocked even Republicans regarding Trump’s depravity in planning and instigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. There’s the June 24 Supreme Court ruling reversing abortion rights, plus increasing bids by Republican state legislatures to assume total veto power over elections should they not agree with voters’ choices.

President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings are doing nothing to boost his party’s chances, and Democrats’ big fear is that high gasoline prices and inflation — neither of which Biden can control — will drive disaffected voters to the Republican side. That has led far-right commentators to assume the upcoming elections are a lock for the GOP, and any result showing otherwise cannot possibly be explained by anything other than fraud.

Official Vote By Mail Ballot Drop Box sign points voters to the ballot box at the Lauderhill Supervisor of Elections location, on Oct. 12, 2020. (Jillian Cain/Dreamstime/TNS)

The New York Times recently monitored a range of broadcasts around the country — Nebraska, Louisiana, Delaware, Texas, Minnesota, California and North Dakota. In each case, conservative hosts advanced the idea that Democratic cheating is the only way Republicans can lose. “These people are not going to sit by and just accept the big loss. They have the same poll numbers we do. What are they going to do? They’re going to cheat,” one Omaha host asserted.

National polls (presumably the same ones the talk show hosts are seeing) suggest a solid majority of Democrats and independents, along with sizable numbers of Republicans, oppose the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. Whether that translates into a surge against Republican candidates remains to be seen. But if it does happen, it’ll be because Republicans have driven voters away, not because Democrats need to engage in fraud in order to win.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board.