A who’s who of political conservatives – former federal judges, U.S. senators and GOP election lawyers – have issued a report that is the most extensive rebuttal yet of Donald Trump’s stolen election claims in six of 2020’s battleground states.
The report, “Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election,” refutes the 187 claims made in Trump’s 64 post-election lawsuits, as well as erroneous conclusions in several post-election reviews that pro-Trump state legislators outsourced to pro-Trump contractors. (Trump lost every lawsuit except one that involved a non-election issue.)
But the report’s most intriguing aspect may be the short summaries where it described how sufficient numbers of otherwise loyal Republican voters in six states turned away from Trump in 2020 compared to 2016, causing his loss.
Those summations, coming from conservatives, echo the January 6 committee’s testimony from mostly Republican witnesses, which polling has found have been persuasive among political independents to reject Trump’s ongoing election-denying claims and frown on 2022’s election-denying candidates.
“Our conclusion is unequivocal: Joe Biden was the choice of a majority of the Electors, who themselves were the choice of the majority of voters in their states,” the report’s introduction said. “Biden’s victory is easily explained by a political landscape that was much different in 2020 than it was when President Trump narrowly won the presidency in 2016.”
“President Trump waged his campaign for re-election during a devastating worldwide pandemic that caused a severe downturn in the global economy,” it continued. “This, coupled with an electorate that included a small but statistically significant number willing to vote for other Republican candidates on the ballot but not for President Trump, are the reasons his campaign fell short, not a fraudulent election.”
Lost Not Stolen was co-authored by former U.S. Sens. John Danforth (Missouri) and Gordon Smith (Oregon), former federal judges J. Michael Luttig, Thomas B. Griffith, and Michael W. McConnell, former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg and David Hoppe, former chief of staff to ex-House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Here are excerpts summarizing the ticket-splitting in the six battleground states.
“Biden outperformed [Hillary] Clinton’s 2016 results, and Trump performed worse than he had in 2016,” the report said, before parsing Biden’s 10,457-vote margin.
“Disaffection for Trump among Republican voters led to ticket-splitting that hurt Trump and helped Biden,” it said. “Nearly 60,000 voters did not vote for Trump even though they voted Republican down-ballot; of these, 39,000 voted for
Biden. Considering only the two most populous counties in the state, more than 74,000 disaffected Republicans did not vote for Trump in 2020; 65% of these (48,577 votes) voted for Biden; those 48,577 votes alone represent 4.6 times Biden’s margin of victory over Trump.”
Biden beat Trump by 11,779 votes, making Biden the first Democrat to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.
“Biden capitalized on grassroots organizing, a rapidly diversifying electorate, significantly increased turnout, and suburbs growing in population and becoming inhospitable to 2020 Republican candidates,” the report said. “Democrats have made slow and steady gains in Georgia, with candidates focusing on bringing out Democratic voters who did not vote in previous election cycles, thus closing the gap with Republicans in recent elections. In addition to bringing out Democratic voters, Biden also succeeded among swing and suburban voters.”
In 2016, Trump won by 10,700 votes. In 2020, Biden won by 154,188 votes.
“Biden’s victory is attributed to gains in suburban counties, especially those in Detroit suburbs, as well as strength in urban cores and small metropolitan areas,” it said. “Trump increased his share of votes in 63 of the state’s 83 counties, winning 73 counties; but Trump won fewer counties than the 75 he took in 2016, and the counties he did win are sparse in population. In addition, support for third-party candidates dwindled from 5% of the vote in 2016 to just 1.5% in 2020.”
Though not widely covered nationally, Trump’s allies filed 10 suits that claimed that “thousands and thousands” of people voted illegally.
“President Biden carried Nevada by a margin of 33,596 votes over Trump, out of nearly 1.4 million votes cast,” it said. “Biden’s win in Nevada, like Clinton’s, is attributable to a reliable base of Democrats in southern Nevada [greater Las Vegas]. He performed far better with Latina women than Latino men and outperformed Trump with independents.”
In 2016, Trump won by 44,292 votes, compared to 2020 where Biden won by 80,555 votes out of 6.9 million votes cast.
“While Biden’s largest vote margins came from dense population centers with large Black populations, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, he made gains in Republican counties and outperformed Clinton in counties she won in 2016,” it said. “Democrats saw increased support in suburban Philadelphia counties (as compared to 2016), while Republican gains in suburban Pittsburgh were not as great.”
In 2016, Trump won by 22,748 votes. In 2020, Biden won by 20,682 votes.
“Biden’s win has been attributed to improved performance in Wisconsin suburban and smaller metropolitan counties, as well as traditional Democratic strength in urban areas,” it said. “Republicans’ margins in Milwaukee’s suburban counties were lower than in 2016, while Democrats made gains in urban cores and large suburbs and reduced their losses in small metropolitan areas.”
Enough, Conservatives Say
The Lost Not Stolen report said that Trump’s repeated stolen election claims were baseless and harmed public confidence in American democracy and elections. It quoted numerous court decisions were judges were extremely critical of Trump, such as this excerpt from a federal court ruling in Michigan:
“This lawsuit represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process. It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election. It is another to take on the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated. This is what happened here.”
The report’s co-authors urged “fellow conservatives” to stop following Trump’s continuing claims that the 2020 election was stolen and to instead focus on better candidates in 2022’s midterm and 2024’s presidential election.
“We urge our fellow conservatives to cease obsessing over the results of the 2020 election, and to focus instead on presenting candidates and ideas that offer a positive vision for overcoming our current difficulties and bringing greater peace, prosperity, and liberty to our nation,” it concluded.