Get Informed

Subscribe to our newsletters for regular updates, analysis and context straight to your email.

Close Newsletter Signup

The Count #8: Mobilizing Against Trump’s Assault On Democracy

The Count is a daily newsletter and live show from The Appeal and NowThis, focused on what happens in the scenario that the 2020 presidential race is too close to call on election night, if President Donald Trump makes good on his promise to not accept the election results, and what we can do in the 77 days between election day and the inauguration to uphold our democracy.

Today, we’ll look at:

  • New polling that shows voters, including many Republicans, believe Trump will try to steal the election.
  • The insights Steve Bannon has given about this very plot (and his contempt for those who want to count every ballot).
  • The importance of mobilizing against Trump’s assault on democracy.

If you were forwarded this newsletter and would like to subscribe, sign up here.


  • 14 days until election day.
  • 49 days until the deadline for all ballots to be counted.
  • 55 days until electoral college slates send their votes to Congress.
  • 78 days until Congress counts electoral college votes.
  • 92 days until inauguration day.


Concern over President Donald Trump’s plan to steal the election has reached the halls of Congress. Senate Democrats yesterday released a new report that promotes the message that vote counting will not end on Nov. 3 and “that’s ok.”

“Americans should be prepared to reject misinformation and be patient about results in places where counting ballots may take longer,” reads the report. “President Trump’s rhetoric indicates he may exploit this illusion [of a “red mirage” on election night] and claim victory for himself, then falsely claim that there is “massive fraud” in mail-in ballots that have not yet been counted or reported.”

This belief is shared by a majority of American voters.

New polling from Data for Progress and The Justice Collaborative Institute indicates voters believe Trump will undermine the will of voters.

  • 53% of voters, including 33% of Republicans, believe that Trump and his campaign will try to commit voter fraud and steal the election.
  • 57% of voters, including 35% of Republicans, agree that Trump and his campaign will try to stop the counting of ballots if they are ahead on election night.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: VOTERS SEE THROUGH TRUMP. Months of GOP and Trump rhetoric intended to undermine the legitimacy of mail-in ballots hasn’t convinced voters of a “rigged” election. However, Trump’s statements have convinced voters that he will actually try to fraudulently rig the election for himself.
  • STOP THE STEAL. The best way to stop Trump from stealing the election is to vote, because stealing an election is only possible if there are tight margins. “If we are able to have such a powerful show of force on Election Day, and throughout the election cycle, then no matter the kind of intensity Trump and the Republicans bring, they won’t be able to overcome us,” said Data for Progress’ Jason Ganz on The Count.


Chief among Trump’s allies echoing the president’s attempts to cast doubts on election results is Steve Bannon. The former White House adviser, who was charged with fraud earlier this year, launched a speaking tour in key swing states called “The Plot to Steal 2020.”

Bannon is telling as many voters as he can, that it is the Democrats who plan to steal the election. But he’s also hinted at the Trump campaign’s election strategy: to win the “game-day vote,” claim an early victory, stop the count, and, if necessary, get the courts to agree with you.

Here’s a breakdown–and the hypocrisy of–that strategy. It’s bananas. It’s B-A-N-N-O-N-A-S:

  • ELECTION DAY IS GAMEDAY –– In Bannon’s world, the only votes that matter are the ones submitted on Nov. 3 and Nov. 3 alone, and it is Democrats’ fault for lowering their own election day turnout by pushing for (and accepting the risk of rejection) of mail-in ballots.
    • “[Democrats] do not want to go stand in line and vote. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a game changer. It’s what electorate shows up to vote, on a vote that can be certified, that’s a vote that counts.” — Bannon at a Young Republican Federation of Virginia event
    • “President Donald Trump is going to win on gameday … They’re going to try and overturn the gameday election three or four weeks after, by Thanksgiving, by going in there and trying to count all these ballots.” — Bannon on KUSI News
  • ANNOUNCE TRUMP’S VICTORY ON NOV. 3 — This is straight out of Trump’s playbook. By telling Trump voters that the president will declare himself the winner by 11 p.m. on Nov. 3, and that anything short of that means a rigged election because, according to Bannon, “that’s the real vote, the vote that counts.”
    • “Set the [red] predicate on November 3rd. Once we set that predicate that Trump’s going to win on election day, that’s mighty hard to unwind. And they know that. That’s why they’re freaking out … On Nov. 3 Donald J. Trump is going to walk into the Oval Office and he may hit a tweet before he goes in there to see if Jack Dorsey has the stones not to put it up.” — Bannon at a Young Republican Federation of Virginia event
  • CRITICIZE THE AUDACITY TO… COUNT BALLOTS — Bannon has repeatedly told audiences that Democrats will — gasp — keep counting ballots even after Trump announces his “win” on election night. Bannon has criticized Democrats’ “need to keep counting.”
    • “They continue to say you have to, you know, you have to count all the votes … They want to go and count until they get a victory.” — Bannon on The John Fredericks Show
  • “BLUE STEAL” — Like Zoolander, this is Bannon’s only look. The well-established trend in post-election day vote tallies known as the “blue shift” is expected to be larger than ever this year. But Bannon is trying to frame this normal political trend as thievery:
    • “They point to McSally [Republican candidate for US Senate in Arizona] she’s up 15,000, she loses by 35,000. They just keep counting… They just keep counting ‘til they win.” — Bannon at a Young Republican Federation of Virginia event
  • CREATE A FIGHT CLUB — Bannon has complained that Democrats are involved in “200 lawsuits” — meanwhile, the RNC plans to spend twice as much on lawsuits as the Democrats’ litigation budget. Bannon has also complained about Biden’s hiring of multiple lawyers, while also proudly promoting how many lawyers Trump has amassed:
    • “President Trump and the Trump campaign have the lawyers for Trump — I think they have 1,500 lawyers right now. I think the campaign’s done an amazing job with outside groups.” — Bannon during a webinar with Arapahoe Tea Party.
  • TAKE IT TO THE (GOP CONTROLLED) COURTS — Bannon slams Democrats’ lawsuits as courtroom “shenanigans,” while declaring that “every ballot is going to be contested” and that he expects the election results to end up in front of SCOTUS.

“It’s not anything short of gaslighting the entire voter population..” — The Count co-host, Emily Galvin-Almanza


The key to defeating Trump’s plan is not just to see this as about winning one election, but rather about the need to save democracy, says Maurice Mitchell, a community organizer and national director of the Working Families Party.

Mitchell reiterated this on The Count yesterday, saying that voters need to create a, “Which side are you on?” moment. “There is no fence sitting, there’s no gray area; you’re either on the side of democracy, or you’re on the side of fascism. It’s really that binary, it’s that clear. And so there’s a lot of work that we could do, as everyday citizens in establishing that as a norm as a normative value, that when it comes to democracy, it is a binary choice.”


  • Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot deadline was upheld by a split US Supreme Court, who declined to hear the GOP’s challenge to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that will allow counting of ballots received within 3 days of the election, as long as they are postmarked by Nov 3.
  • Pennsylvania’s voter registration closed yesterday but election officials were “inundated with complaints” after many first-time voters’ signature uploads were rejected. Nearly a third of the state’s registered voters have requested mail-in ballots.
  • The final presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday, but it might not actually happen. The Trump campaign has objected to the topics chosen by the moderator (fighting COVID-19, families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership) despite agreeing months ago that moderators would decide the topics. And yes, this time, mics will be muted.
  • The “Malarkey Factory” is the name of the Biden campaign’s effort to combat misinformation online and one of the big concerns is voters’ potential lack of trust in the election results. The campaign is “bracing for any information warfare that could take place in the aftermath of the election.”
  • Florida’s early voting began on Monday with 52 of the state’s 67 counties opening up early polling places. In one county, “more voters had cast ballots by midday than voted early overall in 2016.”
  • Michigan’s state police could be called into enforce laws against voter intimidation if local sheriffs won’t, the state’s attorney general said.
  • Micro-influencers and memes are urging Black voters to not cast a ballot this year, but these voter depression efforts can’t keep turnout down. The mobilization of Black voters this election is on track to rival 2008.”
  • If you’re unsure about what can go wrong with mail-in ballot verification, check out this visualization from The New York Times, which shows how spacing, slants, and loops can all cause ballots to be thrown out.

The Appeal in Your Inbox

Subscribe to our newsletters for regular updates, analysis and context straight to your email.