Since Nov. 7, the result of the 2020 presidential race has been clear: Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump by a substantial enough margin that the outcome has never really been in doubt by serious observers. But on Monday, the results met a new official threshold as Arizona and Wisconsin became the final decisive swing states to certify their votes.
"All six key states have now certified their election results with Joe Biden as the winner," said attorney Marc Elias, who has been involved in key election law cases for the Democratic Party. "Trump and his allies remain 1-39 in court."
In addition to the newly certified swing states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia have also certified Biden as the winner. Georgia is still undergoing a recount, but it is not expected to affect the result, especially since the state has already conducted an audit of the ballots, carried out by hand, that affirmed a margin for Biden of more than 12,000 votes. Trump also funded recounts of two counties in Wisconsin, which likewise reaffirmed Biden's win. Certifications are also being carried out in swing states Trump won and states where the presidential election outcome was never really in doubt.
Usually, the certification of the presidential results is not a newsworthy event, because — aside from the 2000 race, which was exceptionally close and disputed — the loser in the race concedes as soon as the media calls the election. That makes the formalities of the election process much less interesting to cover. This year, though, Trump has refused to concede the election and, in fact, continues to insist he won. He's been pushing a slew of ridiculous and clumsy lawsuits, along with a disinformation campaign pushing conspiracy fictions, in an effort to overturn the election, but these baseless maneuvers have consistently failed to move him any closer to staying in power. The certification of the key results is just another sign that his clownish coup attempt is failing.
In theory, Trump still has some cards he could try to play. He could try to convince enough electors in the Electoral College to vote for him. But they won't. Alternatively, he can try to convince legislatures in states he lost to send alternative slates of electors that really would vote for him rather than Biden. But there's not really any mechanism to do this. Democrats in Congress would have the power to stop it. And the certification of the official results just makes any effort to overturn the vote all the more pathetic, duplicitous, and untenable. It's just not going to work.
"We still have some mop up legal work to do, but it's fair to say it's over," said Elias.
But Trump isn't handling this news well. He's been lashing out at his allies, like Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, for failing to hand him victory, despite the fact that Kemp had no power or authority to do so. And Republicans seem increasingly worried that Trump is stoking animus among the party's base for its elected officials, which could undermine their hopes of keeping the two Georgia Senate seats on the ballot in January runoff. If Democrats can win both those seats — which looks difficult but not impossible — they'll take control of the Senate, giving Biden a much freer hand to enact his agenda.
That's why it should be particularly concerning for Republicans that Trump is retweeting posts like the following, which express doubts about the purpose of voting for the GOP:
He lashed out specifically at Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday because of his role in certifying the election results. To be clear, Trump has no grounds for objecting to the results in these states except for the fact that he lost.
This is likely doing serious damage to the GOP as a whole, spreading distrust between loyal party voters and the leadership, which has realized it can't do anything about Trump's loss. But much of GOP leadership, with a few key exceptions, spent far too long tolerating or supporting Trump's empty talk of a stolen election; they may find it hard to turn the clock back now and convince their voters to accept an orderly return to electoral politics.