Some supporters of Bernie Sanders are so enthused by their candidate that they have trouble reconciling the fact that 2 million more primary voters have cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton than for the senator from Vermont. How else might one explain the fact that Clinton’s wins—and even some losses—are increasingly being greeted with allegations of election fraud on social media and at some of the more feverish websites? Here’s just one of several such posts I’ve seen:
My mom, a BernieBro, just told me I’m “naive” to believe Hillary’s 2.4M popular vote lead isn’t due to…massive voter fraud.
At Reader Supported News, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, co-authors of How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, write that we’ve “already seen deeply disturbing signs” of election fraud, “to the detriment of the Bernie Sanders campaign.” Those deeply disturbing signs included early, erroneous reports that Clinton had won all six coin-flips in Iowa, and some disparity between the notoriously unreliable exit polls—which in most cases don’t capture absentee or early votes—and the final results in Massachusetts, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. (In an e-mail exchange, Wasserman assured me that German exit polls are very reliable, and asked why ours would be any different.)
There’s currently a WhiteHouse.gov petition demanding an investigation into “Clinton surrogate voting fraud in Wyoming,” a state Sanders won by a margin of 156 to 124 state delegates, according to Real Clear Politics. The Clinton campaign has also been accused of “stealing” Iowa, Nevada, and Arizona.
It’s a conspiracy theory, and conspiracy theories tend to fall apart under the weight of their own internal illogic. Consider the 9/11 attacks: If they were a “false flag” operation pulled off by a cabal of extremists within the Bush administration in order to create a casus belli for the invasion of Iraq, why wouldn’t they make the attackers evil Iraqi intelligence officers rather than citizens of Saudi Arabia? And if they really felt the need to bring down the World Trade Center, why bother shooting a missile at the Pentagon? Why crash an airplane into a field in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania? Even judged on its own terms, the theory makes no sense.