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Let’s take Rudy Giuliani’s voter-fraud theories to their natural conclusion

Rudy Giuliani speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Our Philip Rucker was on-scene in the Las Vegas spin room after the third presidential debate, and reports that Donald Trump superfan Rudy Giuliani had some theories.

Let's game these allegations out.

Pennsylvania has voted for the Democrat in the last six presidential contests, with vote totals nearing 6 million in 2008 and 2012. At no point since 1980 has the margin of victory in the state been less than 100,000 votes.

In the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average in the state, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 6.2 points, earning 46.4 percent to Trump's 40.2. Assuming 6 million people vote, that means that we'd expect the final vote tally in the state to be 2.8 million votes for Clinton and 2.4 million votes for Trump, with a margin of 372,000 votes.

Meaning that we'd need to bus 372,000 people into Pennsylvania to vote, assuming the results are rigged.

This is obviously stupid already -- how is Clinton only winning by "fraud" if she's up 6 points in the polls? -- but let's keep going with it. Giuliani wouldn't lie to us, after all, and if we are expecting that margin of victory for Clinton, that had better be the result to avoid raising suspicions.

Let's assume the people perpetrating this fraud are using school buses, a line of them cruising from New York and New Jersey into the Philadelphia environs like the opening scene of "The Dark Knight." This is slightly more inconspicuous than a stream of tourist buses; not that many people want to eat cheesesteak and see the Liberty Bell. The always-useful site tells us that 72 people can fit on a regular school bus. That's little kids, mind you. Only 48 high schoolers can fit on the same bus. But let's assume we really pack these fraudsters in, have them standing in the aisles and so on. So: 72 each.

We need to line up 5,167 buses to make our plan work. At a length of 45 feet apiece, that's 44 miles of school buses -- just shy of half the distance from New York to Philly (assuming they're moving bumper-to-bumper). And, of course, we need to line up 372,000 people to go do the illegal voting.

Oh, wait. No. We only need to line up 74,400 people, since each one will vote five times, according to Giuliani. Simple to round up 75,000 people in New York, and that decreases our necessary bus count to a more-manageable 1,033 buses. That's a line of buses that would only stretch 9 miles. Barely noticeable.

Those 74,400 people will each be given five identities to use at the polls in Philadelphia. (Philadelphia is Trump's favorite place to allege voter fraud, thanks to rampant post-2012 conspiracy theories in which it was revealed that black voters strongly preferred Barack Obama to Mitt Romney.) There were about 13,700 deaths of people aged 15 and up in Philly in 2012, so we'd estimate that we'd need to register about 27 years' worth of dead Philadelphians to pull off 372,000 fraudulent ballots. Of course, fewer people died three decades ago when the city was smaller, so let's just figure we need, say, 40 years of dead city residents.

But there's a problem. Pennsylvania participates in a program called ERIC -- the Electronic Registration Information Center. So far this year, ERIC has culled 28,553 dead voters from the rolls in the 12 states where its in effect. It's not clear how many of those are in Pennsylvania, but it highlights the risk to Giuliani's strategy: The various checks that are in place to prevent these phony registrations from being used. At the very least, we'll need more than those 372,000 fraudulent identifications. Round up to 400,000, add some buses, and we're in business. Sure, it's an increase of 33 percent over the existing over-18 population of the city, but who's going to notice?

Okay. So that gives Clinton the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania. All we need to do now is subtly rig the election in a few other states. Like Florida, where Clinton is up 3.8 points, meaning that we need to bus in about 323,000 people to comprise the margin there. Across the country, figure that we need to rig some 1 million votes and 200,000 fraudulent voters. Assuming that they all keep their mouths shut and that the Republican Party -- on the lookout for alleged voter fraud -- doesn't catch wind, the plan is foolproof.

After all, it's not like polls show Clinton with a healthy lead nationally, suggesting that the reason she might win is that she's the preferred candidate. Not at all. She's winning because streams of school buses flow into southeastern Philadelphia and people who died in the Nixon administration suddenly emerge to cast a ballot for her and Tim Kaine.

It's the only likely explanation.