Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated: Thu, 22 Apr 2021 17:19:53 GMT
Six days after Election Day 2020, then-President Donald Trump tweeted this: "Nevada is turning out to be a cesspool of Fake Votes." He added that when the findings were released, "will be absolutely shocking!"
On Wednesday night, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, announced that her office had found zero "evidentiary support" for claims of fraud or bias in the Silver State's 2020 election results.
"While the [Nevada Republican Party] raises policy concerns about the integrity of mail-in voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day voter registration, these concerns do not amount to evidentiary support for the contention that the 2020 general election was plagued by widespread voter fraud," wrote Cegavske in a letter to the Nevada GOP.
That total rejection of Trump's claim that the state was a "cesspool of Fake Votes" comes on top of a near-unanimous series of legal and political defeats in recent months for Trump's Big Lie -- the unfounded claims of widespread election fraud in key states. Just earlier this week, the Supreme Court rejected a case brought by several Pennsylvania Republicans arguing that the state's judiciary had overstepped its authority by expanding ballot deadlines during the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Despite that series of setbacks -- and the utter lack of any sort of proof to back up Trump's wild claims -- the former president and many of his supporters continue to believe the Big Lie. Six in 10 self-identified Republicans said they believe that the 2020 election was "stolen" according to a Reuters-Ipsos national poll released late last month. In that same poll, 55% of Republicans said that the 2020 election was "the result of illegal voting or election rigging."
So, well, yeah.
For her part, Cegavske has paid a political price for doing her job as the state's top election official. Earlier this month, Cegavske was formally censured by the Nevada Republican Party for "disregard of her oath of office by failing to investigate election fraud, her dismissive public statements regarding election integrity concerns, and her failure to ensure compliance with Nevada and federal election law."
Which, again, is false. Trump lost Nevada to Joe Biden by 50.1% to 47.7% -- a margin of 33,596 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast in the state. As Cegavske said in the immediate aftermath of her censure: "Unfortunately, members of my own party continue to believe the 2020 general election was wrought with fraud -- and that somehow I had a part in it -- despite a complete lack of evidence to support that belief."
What's amazing about the censure motion is the Cegavske is the only statewide Republican official in Nevada -- as Democrats have taken over all of the other top roles in the last few elections. Despite her success, the state Republican Party -- still beholden to Trump -- insists on seeking to punish her for not buying into the Big Lie.
Remember that even after the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, almost 150 Republicans in Washington -- 139 House members and eight senators -- voted to object to the Electoral College counts in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Simply put: Republicans continue to live in the past, choosing to believe a repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory about the 2020 election rather than turn their focus to the future -- including the battle to retake the House and Senate majorities in 2022.
"Republicans must offer a viable alternative and develop a unifying theme instead of letting themselves be defined by dysfunction," wrote GOP strategist Ken Spain in a piece for Real Clear Politics on Thursday.
Good advice. But there's no evidence Republicans plan to follow it.