IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Baseless GOP claims about election fraud remain dangerous for a democracy

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder campaigns in the recall election of governor Gavin Newsom
Gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder climbs onto his campaign bus in Monterey Park, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2021.Mike Blake / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Minimizing what happened on Jan. 6 — sometimes even sympathizing with those who were arrested.

And now alleging election fraud and irregularities before a single ballot has been officially counted — in a state (California) where voters for President Joe Biden outnumber those for former President Donald Trump by 2-to-1.

“Republican Larry Elder appealed on Monday to his supporters to use an online form to report fraud, which claimed it had ‘detected fraud’ in the ‘results’ of the California recall election ‘resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor,’” NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald writes.

“The only problem: On Monday when the link was live on Elder's campaign site, the election hadn't even happened yet.”

This is today’s Republican Party after Trump’s presidency.

Of course, it’s not the entire party, as some prominent GOP officials still vehemently oppose what happened on Jan. 6 and adamantly say they’ll accept the election results no matter the outcome.

But they’re in the minority within their party, particularly when it comes to energy, intensity and activity.

And it’s all dangerous — and unsustainable — for a democracy. If you’re telling your voters not to trust the election results, the logical conclusion is that elections aren’t worth having.

We know we’ve said all of this before (see here and here), and we know so many in the political community have become numb to this kind of rhetoric about our elections.

But it’s ominous development. And there are no signs of it stopping anytime soon.

Tweet of the day

Biden ties Elder to Trump

As today’s Republican Party resembles Trump more and more everyday — even after he left office — Democrats aren’t being shy about tying GOP candidates to Trump.

Here was Biden campaigning for California Gov. Gavin Newsom last night on the eve of today’s gubernatorial recall:

"All of you know last year I got to run against the real Donald Trump," Biden said, per NBC News. "Well, this year, the leading Republican running for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I have ever seen."

Biden added, "I'm gonna make this as simple as I can: You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you'll get Donald Trump. It's not a joke."

It’s worth noting: Elder — and not moderate former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer — became the leading GOP’s leading replacement candidate in the recall.

GOP voters, per the polls, want Elder, not Faulconer.

How to watch the returns in tonight’s recall election

Polling places close in California at 11:00 p.m. ET.

Per NBC’s Decision Desk, counties are expected to release the results of early mail-in ballots first, then ballots from those who cast them early in-person, and then finally from those who cast ballots on Election Day.

So expect the early returns to be heavily Democratic-leaning, since Democratic voters have used mail-in ballots more than Republicans have during the pandemic.

One other thing: If the election is close, we might not know the ultimate outcome for a while.

The reason: The mail-in ballots must be postmarked by today, but can arrive at elections office by Sept. 21.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

18 inches: How much rain the National Hurricane Center predicts parts of Texas could see from Tropical storm Nicholas, which made landfall overnight.

8.5 percent: The increase in wholesale meat prices in August, per NPR, as rising costs have led to rising grocery bills.

1 in 4: The number of U.S. intensive care units at least 95 percent full.

70 percent: The percentage of the world population President Biden will call for being vaccinated for Covid by next September, according to the Washington Post.

41,349,554: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 289,318 more since Monday morning.)

665,964: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 2,206 more since Monday morning.)

380,831,725: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 589,822 more since Monday morning.)

53.9 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

65 percent: The share of all U.S. adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the Biden administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal during a congressional hearing Monday that turned heated at times.

America's creditworthiness — and your 401(k) — are on the line until lawmakers approve a new debt ceiling.

Democrats have a new deal on voting legislation, but still have to surmount the Senate filibuster for it to become law.

Boston holds its preliminary mayoral election, where the field will be culled to two before November’s election.