Those who condemned House Republicans for sacking Liz Cheney from her position as conference chair know they are in the minority of the party, but like to portray themselves as truth-tellers. For as we all learned when we were five-years old: do the right thing even if no one else is.
In the micro-sense they are correct. Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, period. But, in the macro-sense they are not immune from the same sorts of irresponsible, hyperbolic, and false rhetoric when it comes to the state of the GOP that they accuse others of engaging in. Consider this tweet from David French referencing a Jonathan Last article:
This sentiment has two problems. The first is that it draws a false conclusion from the Cheney situation. House Republicans are currently the minority party and their goal is to win the majority in 2022. Cheney’s consistent talks on 2020 forced the party to talk about the past not the present and future. Politico reported even Cheney’s fellow impeachers were growing tired of her bringing up the past. If Republicans replaced Cheney with Paul Gosar, then maybe French and Last would have a point, but they picked Elise Stefanik.
There are a whole lot of Republicans between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Liz Cheney and for those who sincerely want to move the GOP beyond Trump and not just beat their chests about how morally superior they are, casting the entire House caucus as in on “The Big Lie” is a dead end that will result in failure.
It is also objectively false. Which brings us to the second point. French and Last state that if the GOP controls Congress in 2025 they will have the power to overturn the election, which they could not do in 2021 because they did not have the majority. This ignores what actually happened on January 6.
Of the 204 Republicans to cast a vote on Arizona’s certification, 83 voted to affirm (Stefanik voted to affirm Arizona, but reject Pennsylvania). Now, you could say that is still a minority of 41%) and you would be correct, but now let us play out some hypotheticals.
Let us say that in 2025, Republicans have 270 seats — for comparison’s sake, Democrats had 257 when they pushed through Obamacare — if every Democrat voted no and the exact same percentage of Republicans voted no, then the measure would die 276–159. In fact, if 80% of our hypothetical 270 Republicans voted yes, that would still leave the measure defeated 219–216.
It is very unlikely that 41% would be the number. For one, it is easy to object when you know you have no chance of success and can state you are just “raising concerns” as that is what Democrats did when they objected to previous Republican victories (are we allowed to mention Democrats have done this too and on multiple occasions?). Secondly, a larger caucus would probably be populated with more moderate, less MTG-y types.
But, let us get really crazy. Say, Republicans somehow, some way won every single one of the House’s 435 seats. Again, this caucus would be much more moderate as it would have to win in the darkest of blue districts, so the number of those voting to affirm would be greater than 41%.
So, even if Republicans controlled every seat, they still would be hard pressed to overturn the election. For 59% of Republicans to be enough to overturn a state’s certification, Republicans will need to win 370 seats or 85% of all House seats. Say that somehow happened, we know must move to the Senate.
On January 6 there were still 51 Republican senators; 45 of them voted to affirm Biden’s win or 88%. If Republicans controlled all 100 seats, that would mean the Senate would still reject a challenge by a 88–12 margin and again for a Republican to get elected in the darkest of blue states, they would have to be more moderate than the average Republican who is in the Senate today. For comparison’s sake, the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act in 2020 for FY21 was 86–14.
Finally, let us say that somehow those Republicans who want to overturn the 2025 election somehow defied math and electoral logic and got both the House and the Senate to overturn the election. As French and Last note, the president is not therefore determined by a popular vote in the House, but by the state delegations. Alaska’s one representative will have as much of a vote as California’s 52. But, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming’s (yes, Cheney could be gone by then, but who might replace her is anyone’s guess) lone Republican representatives also voted to affirm. Also, all three of Iowa’s Republicans joined the state’s lone Democrat to affirm. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s three Republicans voted 2–1 to do the same.
Specifically, in 2021 despite being in the minority, the GOP controlled 27 of 50 state delegations. It is an imperfect analogy to be sure, but if the House decided 2020 then 17 of those 27 would have defied Trump, with one — Idaho — splitting. Among those 17 includes the nation’s largest red state: Texas.
Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election were bad enough, we do not need more people spreading lies and instilling fear about what the Republican Party might do in 2025 just so they can feel better about themselves. After all, we are all about the truth here, right?