By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
I thought I was hearing things this morning. Turns out I heard it right.
Donald Trump reportedly is going to “declare victory” prematurely Tuesday night if the early returns show him leading the contest over Joe Biden. Yep. That’s what might happen, according to Axios.com, which broke the story.
That is weird, man. Totally strange and bizarre. In a way, though, it illustrates a bit of daffy cunning on Trump’s part.
The early voter returns likely won’t have a winner declared in the Electoral College. The winner needs 270 electoral votes to be elected. So if Trump decides to declare “victory” before all the votes are counted, he might be banking on voters deciding against casting their ballots believing that Trump’s actually been re-elected.
Far-fetched? Yeah. It is. There is a strange plausibility to trying such a thing.
In 1980, the TV networks declared Ronald W. Reagan the winner over President Carter early on election night. He had rolled up enough electoral votes to oust Carter after a single term. The polls had not yet closed way out west, where I was living and working at the time.
There was plenty of anecdotal evidence that night of voters walking away from the polling place when they heard that Reagan had won, forgoing their own casting of ballots. The evidence also showed that in at least one key congressional race, the one between U.S. Rep. Al Ullman and Denny Smith in the Second Congressional District of Oregon, that the walkaways cost the Democrat Ullman enough votes to deny his re-election. I watched that one up close as I was working for a newspaper that covered a portion of that congressional district in Clackamas County, Ore.
Donald Trump has a few tricks up his sleeve. I guess this might be one of them he could deploy to deny Joe Biden a victory. For the sake of the Republic, I hope Joe Biden holds a strong lead when the early returns are broadcast around the world.