Nick Corasantini for the NYT:
This swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election, or any ongoing race that might result in defeat, must be marred by fraud. The relentless falsehoods spread by Mr. Trump and his allies about the 2020 election have only fueled such fears….
Nationally, Republican candidates who deny the outcomes of their elections remain outliers. Hundreds of G.O.P. candidates up and down the ballot in 2020 accepted their defeats. But at the same time, many of them joined Mr. Trump in the assault on the presidential race’s outcome, and in other recent election cycles, candidates, their allies and the conservative news media have increasingly expressed doubts about the validity of the electoral process.
And while false claims of wrongdoing have long emerged in the days and weeks after elections, Republicans’ quick turn in advance of the California recall — a race that was always going to be a long shot for them in a deep-blue state — signals the growing normalization of crying fraud.
“This is baked into the playbook now,” said Michael Latner, an associate professor of political science at California Polytechnic Institute. As soon as the recall was official, he added, “you already started to see stories and individuals on social media claiming that, you know, they received five ballots or their uncle received five ballots.”
Some Republican leaders and strategists around the country worry that it is a losing message. While such claims may stoke up the base, leaders fear that repeatedly telling voters that the election is rigged and their votes will not count could have a suppressive effect, leading some potential Republican voters to stay home.