There’s no way the Electoral College will wrest the presidency away from Donald Trump when electors meet in 50 state capitals on Monday.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, operatives and strategists in 11 key battleground states.
Trump’s status as president-elect isn’t certified until Monday, when electors will meet across the nation to cast their ballots officially. If electors vote according to their state tallies, Trump will earn 306 electoral votes, to 232 for Hillary Clinton.
But Trump’s critics have cited a number of reasons for electors to think twice about backing the president-elect, even if Trump won more votes in their states: Trump finished more than 2 percentage points behind Clinton in the national popular vote; his unprecedented, potential financial conflicts; and U.S. intelligence judgments that Russian state-sponsored hackers stole Democratic Party communications in order to help Trump win.
More than 70 percent of insiders said the number of so-called “faithless electors” will be fewer than 10.
That is in keeping with a Republican National Committee whip count that reported just one of the 306 GOP electors was planning to cast a vote against Trump.
A group of Democratic electors hoping to persuade their Republican counterparts to vote against Trump are urging them to unite behind a consensus GOP candidate. Most of these Democrats have said they will not cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, but their efforts are highly unlikely to succeed and it’s unclear how many of them will follow through.
“There is enough dissatisfaction with Trump for there to be defectors, but I can’t see it being serious,” said an Ohio Republican — who, like all insiders, completed the survey anonymously. “The voters spoke and the electors will largely honor their voices.”
“This whole notion of a faithless Electoral College is an anti-Trump fantasy,” an Iowa Republican added. “That said, one or two could vote against Trump and for Hillary or someone else. As uncomfortable as I am with a Trump presidency, I’d be far more uncomfortable with the precedent of a wild Electoral College that simply dumps 200-plus years of history and decides on their own to invalidate the voters’ will.”
One Wisconsin Republican cited online videos aimed at persuading GOP electors to reconsider before casting their ballots.
“It is complete nonsense to think that Republicans electors will vacate their support for President-elect Trump because of bunch of liberal actors run a silly commercial asking them to change their vote,” said the Republican. “Get over it!”
“Having been an elector myself, I know that most are hard-core supporters,” added a Virginia Democrat. “Any defector has to face the people at home, and this time the other side is very much armed.”
But there is a small segment of insiders, mostly Democrats, who believe the electors should work to overturn Trump’s victory. Trump carried seven of the 11 battleground states — including his narrow but decisive victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“We are in uncharted, unprecedented territory,” a New Hampshire Democrat said. “A president-elect who lost the popular vote by over two percentage points utilized Russian influence to get elected. He also will be in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution on the first minute of office. He also may be getting us into a war with China. Finally, we have no knowledge of what debts or entanglements he has towards Russia or other nations’ oligarchs. In theory, I don’t believe electors should ever deviate from what their state’s results dictate. In reality, our country is on the precipice of losing its democracy. This is not hyperbole. Our electors must save us from this, whether by choosing Hillary or some Republican who does not violate so many norms.”
In a choose-your-own-adventure universe in which the Electoral College spurns Trump, it might require Clinton electors to join with Republicans to find an alternative candidate. But only 26 percent of Democratic insiders want the party’s 232 electors to shun Clinton and back a different challenger — 74 percent do not.
“It isn’t worth the effort. It sucks. We lost,” said a Florida Democrat. “Sure, Trump is entirely unqualified. Yes, his transition has been a disaster. And of course, the Russians, the FBI, the B.S. Benghazi Committee and the fake news played a huge role in the outcome. But we need to stop giving false hope and start rebuilding the Democratic Party.”
The most intense partisan disagreement among insiders was on the question of whether hackers affiliated with Russia’s government actively worked to boost Trump. Democrats were nearly unanimous: 97 percent agree that the Russians helped Trump win.
“This isn’t even debatable anymore,” a Florida Democrat said. “I’ll freely acknowledge the Clinton operation did plenty to contribute to their own demise, but Trump’s buddy Vladimir provided the final bullet.”
But only 35 percent of Republicans agreed, with 65 percent saying they don’t think the Russians were involved in an effort to get Trump elected.
“Other campaigns also came under repeated cyber attacks this summer. They saw it, stopped it, and changed [their] network,” an Iowa Republican said. “The fact that the DNC and Team Hillary were too damn dumb or slow to foil the attacks is no one’s fault but their own.”
“Liberals need to undermine the legitimacy of a GOP victory,” added an Ohio Republican. “They did it from the start with George W. Bush, and this is their tactic to never accept Trump as legitimate.”
Some Republicans, however, expressed frustration with members of their own party for refusing to accept the apparent conclusions of U.S. intelligence officials.
“Republicans who try to spin this as sour grapes are doing a disservice to the Republic,” a New Hampshire Republican said. “This wasn’t an attack on a single candidate; it was an attack on democracy intended to undermine the credibility of freedom and constitutional democracies.”
These are the members of The POLITICO Caucus, not all of whom participated in this survey:
Colorado: Ryan Call, Laura Carno, Matt Chandler, Will Coyne, Adam Eichberg, Mark Ferrandino, Cole Finegan, Michael Fortney, Andrew Freedman, Ted Harvey, Craig Hughes, Owen Loftus, Pete Maysmith, Frank McNulty, Karen Middleton, Christopher Murray, BJ Nikkel, Josh Penry, Rick Ridder, Alan Salazar, Janice Sinden, Pat Steadman, Pat Waak, Steve Welchert, Taylor West, Roxane White, Rob Witwer
Florida: Fernand Amandi, Scott Arceneaux, JP Austin, Tim Baker, Dennis K. Baxley, Slater Bayliss, Dave Beattie, Wayne Bertsch, Ron Book, Pamela Burch Fort, Jose Calderon, Kevin Cate, Kelly Cohen, Gus Corbella, Brian Crowley, Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, Justin Day, Judith Diaz, Nelson Diaz, John Dowless, Ryan Duffy, Jessica Ehrlich, Joe Falk, Alia Faraj-Johnson, Mark Ferrulo, Damien Filer, Marty Fiorentino, Rich Heffley, Nick Iarossi, David Johnson, Eric Johnson, Marian Johnson, Eric Jotkoff, Chris Korge, Jackie Lee, Susan MacManus, Beth Matuga, Fred Menachem, Jon Mills, Joe Mobley, Ben Pollara, Andrea Reilly, Steve Schale, April Schiff, Max Steele, Roger Stone, Richard Swann, Kevin Sweeny, Christian Ulvert, Steve Vancore, Ashley Walker, Andrew Weinstein, Andrew Wiggins, Ryan Wiggins, Rick Wilson
Iowa: Tim Albrecht, Brad Anderson, Rob Barron, Jeff Boeyink, Bonnie Campbell, Dave Caris, Sam Clovis, Jerry Crawford, Sara Craig, John Davis, Steve Deace, John Deeth, Derek Eadon, Ed Failor Jr., Karen Fesler, David Fischer, Ben Foecke, Doug Gross, Steve Grubbs, Tim Hagle, Bob Haus, Joe Henry, Drew Ivers, Jill June, Lori Jungling, Jeff Kaufmann, Brian Kennedy, Jake Ketzner, David Kochel, Chris Larimer, Chuck Larson, Jill Latham, Jeff Link, Dave Loebsack, Mark Lucas, Liz Mathis, Jan Michelson, Chad Olsen, David Oman, Matt Paul, Marlys Popma, Troy Price, Christopher Rants, Kim Reem, Craig Robinson, Sam Roecker, David Roederer, Nick Ryan, Tamara Scott, Joni Scotter, Karen Slifka, John Smith, AJ Spiker, Norm Sterzenbach, John Stineman, Matt Strawn, Charlie Szold, Phil Valenziano, Jessica Vanden Berg, Nate Willems, Eric Woolson, Grant Young
Michigan: Jill Alper, Saul Anuzis, Andrea Bitely, Lori Carpentier, Howard Edelson, Jordan Gehrke, Steve Hood, Darwin Jiles Jr., Joe Lehman, Dennis Lennox, Katie Packer, Ronna Romney McDaniel, John Truscott, Stephanie White, John Yob
Nevada: Mac Abrams, Greg Bailor, Barbara Buckley, Yvanna Cancela, Bob Cavazos, Linda Cavazos, Jim DeGraffenreid, Andrew Diss, Peter Ernaut, Ryan Erwin, Chip Evans, Jay Gerstema, Oscar Goodman, Ryan Hamilton, Dan Hart, Pat Hickey, Zach Hudson, Jeremy Hughes, Megan Jones, Lindsey Jydstrup, Adam Khan, Peter Koltak, Roberta Lange, Sam Liberman, Laura Martin, Michael McDonald, Chuck Muth, Erven Nelson, Kristen Orthman, Neal Patel, Nick Phillips, Jon Ralston, Andres Ramires, Emmy Ruiz, Scott Scheid, Mike Slanker, James Smack, Paul Smith, Jack St. Martin, Mari St. Martin, Daniel Stewart, Brendan Summers, Riley Sutton, Robert Uithoven, Michelle White, Ed Williams, Heidi Wixom
New Hampshire: Charlie Arlinghaus, Arnie Arnesen, Patrick Arnold, Rich Ashooh, Dean Barker, Juliana Bergeron, D.J. Bettencourt, Michael Biundo, Ray Buckley, Peter Burling, Jamie Burnett, Debby Butler, Dave Carney, Jackie Cilley, Catherine Corkery, Fergus Cullen, Lou D’Allesandro, James Demers, Mike Dennehy, Sean Downey, Steve Duprey, JoAnn Fenton, Jennifer Frizzell, Martha Fuller Clark, Amanda Grady Sexton, Jack Heath, Gary Hirshberg, Jennifer Horn, Peter Kavanaugh, Joe Keefe, Rich Killion, Harrell Kirstein, Sylvia Larsen, Joel Maiola, Kate Malloy Corriveau, Maureen Manning, Steve Marchand, Tory Mazzola, Jim Merrill, Jayne Millerick, Claira Monier, Greg Moore, Matt Mowers, Terie Norelli, Chris Pappas, Liz Purdy, Tom Rath, Colin Reed, Jim Rubens, Andy Sanborn, Dante Scala, William Shaheen, Stefany Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter, Terry Shumaker, Andy Smith, Craig Stevens, Kathy Sullivan, Chris Sununu, James Sununu, Jay Surdukowski, Donna Sytek, Kari Thurman, Colin Van Ostern, Deb Vanderbeek, Mike Vlacich, Ryan Williams
North Carolina: Don Davis, Francis X. De Luca, Anita Earls, Jonathan Felts, Tami L. Fitzgerald, Dylan Frick, Taylor Griffin, Robin Hayes, Morgan Jackson, Patsy Keever, Theresa Kostrzewa, Michael Luethy, Ray Martin, Thomas Mills, Melissa L. Reed, Chris Sgro, Paul Shumaker, Dee Stewart, Brad Thompson, Bruce Thompson, Charlie Wallin, Doug Wilson
Ohio: Jerry Austin, Greg Beswick, Matt Borges, Erica Bruton, Tim Burke, Janet Carson, Jai Chabria, Martha Clark, Bob Clegg, Damareo Cooper, Jo Ann Davidson, Michael Dawson, Bill DeMora, Cindy Demse, Kathy Dicristofaro, Katie Eagan, Michael Gonidakis, Wes Goodman, Joe Hallett, Ian James, Melissa Klide Hedden, David Leland, Nick Martin, Rhine McLin, David Pepper, Molly Shack, Mark R. Weaver
Pennsylvania: Chris Borick, Larry Ceisler, Valentino DiGiorgio, Jason Ercole, Dan Fee, Charlie Gerow, Marcel Groen, Leslie Gromis Baker, Mark Harris, Nan McLaughlin, Aubrey Montgomery, Christopher Nicholas, Nachama Soloveichik, David Sosar, Todd Stephens, Doc Sweitzer, David Thornburgh, Ray Zaborney
Virginia: Ray Allen, Sandra Brandt, Marc K. Broklawski, Patsy Brown, Janet Carver, John Cosgrove, Brian Coy, Doris Crouse-Mays, Tom Davis, Julie Dime, Abbi Easter, Mike Farris, John Findlay, Joe Fitzgerald, Sean Harrison, Margo Horner, Robert Hurt, Gaylene Kanoyton, Chris LaCivita, Sue Langley, Frank Leone, Robert G. Marshall, Tucker Martin, Ed Matricardi, Susan J. Rowland, Peter Snyder, Susan Swecker, Jo Thoburn
Wisconsin: Meg Andrietsch, Mary Arnold, Kevin Barthel, Mike Basford, Rebecca Bonesteel, Barry Burden, Terri Burl, Jim Camery, Patrick Guarasci, Robert Hansen, Gary Hawley, Marian Krumberger, Emily Nehring, Jason Rae, Brandon Scholz, John Zapfel
Steven Shepard, politico.com
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