Despite losing the US Presidential election, 59 defeated lawsuits challenging the result, and certification of the result by all states and the electoral college, only one in five elected Republicans has acknowledged Joe Biden as President-elect.
While high profile ex-politicians such as former President George W Bush have welcomed Biden’s victory, currently elected officials have been less willing to acknowledge Donald Trump’s defeat. According to an analysis of their public announcements only 67 of almost 300 Republican governors, senators and congressmen have recognised the Democratic victory.
After an initial flurry when the main media organisations called the election, and a few more when the electoral college – a key stage in the US Presidential election process – delivered its verdict on December 14, the rate of public statements by Republicans has slowed to a trickle.
Some of the concessions came after the failure of Trump-inspired lawsuits to prevent the official certification of the result by key swing states won by the Democrats, such as Georgia and Michigan. Subsequently, amid intense political pressure, the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency which manages the Federal bureaucracy, formally began the transition process.
The electoral college is the official system by which the total number of votes in each state is translated into state-by-state votes for the president – in rough proportion to the population of each state. After the electoral college vote more Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, publicly recognised that Biden will be the next President after his inauguration later in January.
Others are maintaining an awkward silence. According to Congressman Denver Riggleman, who recognises the result, he has spoken to 30 to 40 fellow Republicans who privately acknowledge Biden’s victory.
Some Republican politicians have embraced Trump’s strategy of lawsuits, recounts and political pressure to contest the result. “Georgia’s recount was a charade!” said Congressman Jody Hice from Georgia.
President Trump’s allies in Congress, such as Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, are reportedly planning to challenge the result when both Houses of Congress count the electoral college votes on January 6. Democrats have done so in the past, although mostly as a symbolic act. If Republicans in the lower House can get one member of the Senate to join their challenge, then they can force Congress to debate and vote on the issue.
At least one incoming Senator, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, has suggested he might support such a challenge. If he does and the challenge is put to a vote then Republicans in both Congress and the Senate will be forced to end their silence and vote either in favour of recognising Joe Biden’s victory, or effectively endorsing President Trump’s claim that the election was stolen. Senior Senate Republicans oppose any challenge. John Thune, the number two Republican in the Senate, said that the idea was “going down like a shot dog.”
Those who do recognise Trump’s loss face retaliation. Soon after Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine recognised Biden’s win Trump tweeted, “Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!” Shortly after Arizona certified the election result, the President also claimed the Republican Governor had betrayed the people of that state.
President Trump has raised over $200million in post-election fundraising on the back of his claims of a rigged election. Much of this sum will be available for his new Save America political action committee, which in theory could be used to fund internal party challenges in Republican primary elections against incumbents who he believes have been disloyal. Trump is reported to have directed his advisers to begin monitoring the public statements of Republicans senators and governors, some of whom are up for election in 2022.
After Congress counts the electoral college votes on January 6, the next major stage in the Presidential election process will be the inauguration on January 20.