“Why Republican voters say there’s ‘no way in hell’ Trump lost”

In Reuters interviews with 50 Trump voters, all said they believed the election was rigged or in some way illegitimate. Of those, 20 said they would consider accepting Biden as their president, but only in light of proof that the election was conducted fairly. Most repeated debunked conspiracy theories espoused by Trump, Republican officials and conservative media claiming that millions of votes were dishonestly switched to Biden in key states by biased poll workers and hacked voting machines.

Many voters interviewed by Reuters said they formed their opinions by watching emergent right-wing media outlets such as Newsmax and One American News Network that have amplified Trump’s fraud claims. Some have boycotted Fox News out of anger that the network called Biden the election winner and that some of its news anchors – in contrast to its opinion show stars – have been skeptical of Trump’s fraud allegations. …

It may not be the last time. Many Republicans see attacks on election integrity as a winning issue for future campaigns – including the next presidential race, according to one Republican operative close to the Trump campaign. The party, the person said, is setting up a push for “far more stringent oversight on voting procedures in 2024,” when the party’s nominee will likely be Trump or his anointed successor.

Many Republican voters scoff at those results, convinced Trump was cheated. Raymond Fontaine, a hardware store owner in Oakville, Connecticut, said Biden’s vote total – the highest of any presidential candidate in history – makes no sense because the 78-year-old Democrat made relatively few campaign appearances and seemed to be in mental decline….

“You are going to tell me 77 million Americans voted for him? There is just no way,” said Fontaine, 50….

Rory Wells, 51, a New Jersey lawyer who attended a pro-Trump “stop the steal” election protest in Trenton last week, said he now watches Newsmax because Fox isn’t sufficiently conservative.

“I like that I get to hear from Rudy Giuliani and others who are not immediately discounted as being crazy,” he said of Trump’s lead election lawyer.

Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said the network’s viewership has exploded since the election, with nearly 3 million viewers nightly via cable television and streaming video devices.

In Sundown, Texas, Mayor Jonathan Strickland said there’s “no way in hell” Biden won fairly. The only way he’ll believe it, he said, is if Trump himself says so.

“Trump is the only one we’ve been able to trust for the last four years,” said Strickland, an oilfield production engineer. “As far as the civil war goes, I don’t think it’s off the table.”

If it comes to a fight, Caleb Fryar is ready. But the 26-year-old son of Brett Fryar, the chiropractor, said he hoped Trump’s fraud allegations would instead spark a massive mobilization of Republican voters in future elections.

Asked whether Trump might be duping his followers, he said it’s hard to fathom.

“If I’m being manipulated by Trump … then he is the greatest con man that ever lived in America,” Caleb Fryar said. “I think he’s the greatest patriot that ever lived.”

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