I was disappointed to hear it. I had hoped that Republicans in the two outer suburbs would be more accepting of reality. Loudoun and Prince William residents are comparatively better educated than those elsewhere in Virginia. GOP voters there are also more moderate. Both counties voted for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, when Donald Trump carried the state.
Nonetheless, in a dozen interviews at each of the two convention sites, only six out of 24 delegates or other GOP voters said they thought Biden was the actual winner in November. Nine said Trump “really” won and nine said they believed there was enough fraud to question Biden’s victory.
The survey wasn’t scientific, obviously, but the results were in line with a February poll by Christopher Newport University. It found 61 percent of Virginia Republicans did not believe Biden was legitimately elected.
The Republican activists gathered at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas and a Republican headquarters in Ashburn to nominate candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general for the general election in November.
The Republicans’ lack of confidence in the presidential result is important mainly because it threatens the foundation of our republican (small “r”) form of government. But it also could hurt the GOP in the statewide election by reminding voters of the party’s loyalty to Trump, who lost Virginia by 10 percentage points in November.
“Republicans are basing their campaign on the premise that in some ways, the negative Trump effect is over in Virginia,” said Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst in Richmond. “But the Democrats will argue, ‘No, it’s not over, because they’re embracing all of Trump’s positions,’ such as that Biden’s election wasn’t legitimate.”
At the conventions, I also asked the party faithful about the gubernatorial race. The two favorites in my micro-survey were Pete Snyder and Glenn Youngkin, each of whom got eight votes. Both are business executives with no experience in elected office, and supporters liked that they were outsiders rather than traditional politicians.
Runners-up were Del. Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights), a former House speaker and the establishment favorite, and conservative firebrand Sen. Amanda Chase (Chesterfield), each with three votes; and retired Army Col. Sergio de la Peña, with two. Results in the governor’s race will not be available until later this week.
All of the gubernatorial candidates are emphasizing the importance of election integrity, and nearly all the interviewees said that was important to them. They gave varying reasons as to why they thought Biden’s win was fraudulent.
Walter Davis, 65, a rental company employee, said Trump’s rallies were much larger than Biden’s. He said of Biden’s win, “It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up.”
Said Brenda Schilinski, 67, an electrical engineer: “I have tracked the research into voting machines. It’s physically impossible for some of these wins to occur.”
Donna Widawski, 62, a former U.S. Secret Service officer, said she doesn’t believe everything Trump said about the vote, but “there were enough irregularities to warrant a redo of the election.”
Interviewees also cited reports that rules were changed improperly at the last minute in some states, that GOP observers were not present at certain points and that Democrats in big cities stuffed ballot boxes.
None of that stands up to scrutiny, and it’s important to keep reasserting the facts rather than let this slander against our democracy take permanent root. So, to recap:
●Biden’s margins of victory were in the thousands or tens of thousands in decisive swing states.
●Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security called the election “the most secure in American history.”
●Republican officials in swing states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona said Biden won.
●Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, rejected Trump’s legal challenges or declined to hear them.
Asked why she questioned the result given the positions of Barr and McConnell, Widawski said, “The people on the ground know the truth.”
Peggy Sabato, 71, a retired government auditor, said the voting process included many “strange” occurrences and lacked transparency. She questioned why news outlets said Biden had won Virginia when only a small number of votes had been counted.
Although she has not researched it, Sabato said, “I just know what I know in my little corner.”