- Trump and Republicans repeatedly cried voter fraud before the Virginia gubernatorial election.
- They haven’t said a word about fraud since the GOP candidate, Glenn Youngkin, won on Tuesday.
- In fact, Trump claimed credit for Youngkin’s victory, saying “MAGA voters” delivered the win.
On Monday, former President Donald Trump announced he was “not a believer in the integrity of Virginia’s elections.”
The next day, he took credit for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s win in the state.
Following Trump’s lead, other Republican electeds and pundits also abandoned their claims that Democrats would steal the election immediately after Youngkin became the first Republican to win a Virginia gubernatorial election in over a decade.
The conservative talk radio host John Fredericks warned of rampant voter fraud in an October 27 broadcast, saying, “Everything’s moving in Youngkin’s direction and the Republicans, but a lot of people fear that this is going to get stolen, they’re going to try and cheat. We’ve got all kinds of irregularities right now going on.”
Mother Jones also reported that John Mills, a former cybersecurity official at the Pentagon who is now a conservative commentator for the far-right Epoch Times, falsely caimed that ballot-counting facilities have poor security and that “people can walk in and out.”
Republican state Senator Amanda Chase, a Youngkin surrogate who has long claimed the 2020 election was rigged, baselessly claimed in a late October interview that “Democrats are cheating” in the early vote and that she had passed along information to the Youngkin campaign about how Democrats “are stealing elections in Virginia.”
Youngkin said he knew nothing about these claims and that the election would be fair. On Tuesday night, Chase congratulated Youngkin on his win. She never released any of the purported evidence she said she has of voter fraud.
Youngkin walked a fine line on the issue during his campaign. While he was careful to avoid openly embracing the GOP’s false claims about the 2020 election, he also refused to reject these conspiracy theories in the early months of his campaign.
Before he secured the GOP nomination in May, Youngkin wouldn’t say that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election and pushed for a “commission on election integrity.” In recent months, he conceded that “there wasn’t material fraud” in the 2020 election, which he called “certifiably fair.”
Youngkin also acknowledged under questioning that recent elections in Virginia have been safe and fair, but he spoke at an “election integrity” rally in Lynchburg in August that featured speakers who’ve spread false and misleading claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election.
He also tried flipping the script on his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, by saying Democrats questioned the results of the 2000 presidential election and Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election. McAuliffe hit back at Youngkin, saying there’s no comparison between disputes over the 2000 election and the 2020 election because of the Supreme Court’s involvement in deciding the winner of the former.
Virginia officials have for months attempted to assuage concerns about the security of the state’s elections. The state’s Department of Elections set up a website called “Democracy Defended” that laid out all the ways in which the state keeps its elections safe. At the same time, Youngkin and other Republicans urged their supporters to volunteer as poll watchers and the state saw a surge in election observers this year.
Trump and many of his allies have continued to aggressively promote their false claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen” by Democrats. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and Republicans’ claims that fraud swung the election are false. In fact, nonpartisan election and cybersecurity experts concluded that the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.
But many Republican voters are convinced otherwise. A large majority of Republican voters still believe President Joe Biden didn’t win and the 2020 election was rigged, according to several recent polls. Just a third of GOP voters said they trust US elections either a great deal or a good amount, according to a recent NPR/PBS/Marist poll. In an October NBC poll, just 41% of Republicans said they think their vote will be counted fairly — down from 84% in October 2020.
Trump, for his part, credited himself and “MAGA voters” for delivering Youngkin a victory in Virginia, despite repeatedly suggesting that the election would be marred by fraud and abuse.
“It is looking like Terry McAuliffe’s campaign against a certain person named ‘Trump’ has very much helped Glenn Youngkin,” the former president said in an email Tuesday night. “All McAuliffe did was talk Trump, Trump, Trump and he lost!”
As of Wednesday morning, with an estimated 99% of the vote reporting, Youngkin carried 51% of the vote, a nearly seven-point improvement over Trump’s vote share in 2020. McAuliffe won 49% of the vote, underperforming Biden’s share by five points.