Democrats may well believe that the result of a recount in the southern state of Georgia confirming the victory of Joe Biden is the last nail in a coffin that Donald Trump refuses to lie down in.
But it is increasingly becoming clear to even those who had assumed that Mr Trump would give up his uphill battle at some point that the President will not concede the election.
The latest legal ploy being talked about by Mr Trump’s camp ~ with considerable seriousness, we may add ~ is to have legislators in at least three Republican-controlled state legislatures overturn the popular vote to certify that he and not Mr Biden was elected. Usually, once all votes are counted, the state governor or secretary certifies the result and that ensures electoral college votes from the state are credited to a candidate’s kitty. But while this has been the longstanding convention, Mr Trump’s supporters have seized on the text of the US Constitution to say that a state must appoint electors “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”
This, they argue, means that if Mr Trump can persuade legislators to accept his claims of fraud and overlook some of the votes secured by his rival, they could reach the conclusion that he won the state. Already, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich has tweeted, “Everyone should remember the central role of state legislatures in picking a President. The Legislature, not the Secretary of State, Governor or court.”
The Republicans have taken this argument to court in Pennsylvania, the state which was pivotal to Mr Biden’s victory, to say the election was so flawed that the state’s Republican-controlled legislature should be allowed to appoint electors and declare Mr Trump the winner. This would require state legislators to ignore the 81,000 plus votes that separated the two candidates. But even if Pennsylvania’s legislators do make this huge leap of faith at Mr Trump’s behest, it will not by itself be enough for Mr Biden will still have enough electoral college votes to secure the Presidency.
For such a ploy to succeed, at least two more Republican-controlled state legislatures will have to fall in line. The Trump campaign’s demands on party legislators will test their consciences as seldom before and would, if they succumb, result in the biggest upheaval in American history. Another obscure law has been touted by the Trump campaign.
This one allows legislators to appoint electors if “voters failed to make a choice”. This could require Republican legislators in Wisconsin where Mr Biden won by a margin of 20,608 votes (or 0.7 percentage points), Michigan (155,629 votes or 2.8 percentage points) and Pennsylvania, to hold that voters did not make a choice.
Even as Mr Trump meets Michigan’s Republican legislators to persuade them, he has been criticised by veteran Republican Mitt Romney who says it is difficult to imagine a “worse, more undemocratic action”. But it will require many more Republicans to believe this if Mr Trump is to fail.