As Donald Trump continues to fall behind Hillary Clinton in numerous polls, the Republican nominee and his supporters are crying voter fraud and placing blame wherever they can. The Republican establishment, the mainstream media (including SNL), the Democratic Party, and, of course, "Crooked" Hillary Clinton have all been targeted by Trump’s unhinged Twitter rants lately. Oh, and speaking of Hillary, Trump's most ardent supporters are offering to "do everything in [their] power to take her out," i.e., kill her.
Well this is something. Trump supporter says "Hillary needs to be taken out" https://t.co/hwO4TASRV4
— Colin Jones (@colinjones) October 17, 2016
Following the firebombing of a GOP office in North Carolina on Sunday evening, Trump took to Twitter to suggest the attack was carried out by Clinton surrogates because "we were winning." (On Sunday, Clinton was polling at 47.7 points nationally, compared to Trump's 42.2 points according to data from Real Clear Politics. In North Carolina, Clinton was leading Trump by 3.3 points on Sunday.) It's also worth noting that allegations of widespread voter fraud are overwhelmingly false and have been historically used to systematically disenfranchise black voters, and firebombing has been a white supremacist intimidation tactic since before the Civil Rights movement.
The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places - SAD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
Before the bombing, Trump was citing WikiLeaks's latest batch of hacked emails as proof of rampant voter fraud. The email leak isn't great for Clinton—they include excerpts from her Wall Street speeches and exchanges between Clinton surrogates and top DNC staffers that suggest collusion between the party establishment and the Clinton campaign—but there's no evidence (or even suggestion) of widespread, organized voter fraud happening anywhere in the country. Last week, Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta said that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the emails, and that he believes a top Trump adviser colluded with WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence to sabotage the Clinton campaign.
Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
As the Atlantic's Yoni Appelbaum pointed out yesterday, Trump's claim that the election is "rigged" has three discrete meanings: the mainstream media is out to get him and is colluding with Clinton's campaign (and don't forget about the "international bankers"!); Democrats are conducting voter fraud by registering dead people and undocumented immigrants as voters en masse; and a Clinton victory is only possible due to fraud and wouldn't represent the will of the people. And Trump's supporters are taking his message to heart. (A few, including the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh, are so paranoid they're even falling for obvious Twitter hoaxes of alleged fraud).
In August, Trump's campaign began recruiting "election observers" to monitor the polls.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2016
"I'll look for... well, it's called racial profiling," one Trump supporter told the Boston Globe during a rally in Cincinnati. "Mexicans. Syrians. People who can't speak American. I'm going to go right up behind them. I'll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I'm not going to do anything illegal. I'm going to make them a little nervous."
A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that Trump's repeated claims of fraud have resonated—41 percent of voters say they think the election could be "stolen" from the Republican nominee.
— IrishCreeper (@outsidercapital) October 12, 2016
Many think that a Clinton win would serve as definitive proof that the election is rigged and are threatening violence against Clinton. They are doing so with Trump's tacit approval—in August he suggested that "the 2nd Amendment people" could "do" something about Clinton.
"If she's in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That's how I feel about it," Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old Trump supporter said during Trump's recent Cincinnati rally.
"We're going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that's what it takes. There's going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that's what it's going to take," he continued. "I would do whatever I can for my country."
And then there's this from Trump supporter and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke Jr.:
It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time pic.twitter.com/8G5G0daGVN
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 15, 2016
Trump supporters' paranoia isn't directed solely at the left—yesterday, Trump's Ohio campaign chairman announced the campaign had "disassociated itself" from the state's GOP chairman just weeks before the election due to the party's disloyalty.
This isn't the first time Trump has cried voter fraud. In 2012, he praised Florida Governor Rick Scott for "protecting the sanctity" of the presidential election by purging voter records of alleged non-citizens (except the purged voters were naturalized citizens, and the purge itself was illegal. Oops!).
There are 21 days until the election.