The final time Donald J. Trump participated in aggressive Iowa caucuses, he lost narrowly, accused Senator Ted Cruz of Texas of stealing the competition, claimed fraud, demanded that Iowa Republicans nullify the outcomes, and referred to as for a rerun.
Whereas Iowa has a history of troubles with its caucus results, there’s been no proof of fraud. The 2016 Republican contest was, actually, the one one since 2008 that had gone off with out a hitch.
And but if Monday evening ends with Mr. Trump underperforming expectations, each his historical past and his rhetoric throughout this yr’s marketing campaign counsel he gained’t hesitate to cry foul and refuse to simply accept the end result.
Mr. Trump has already accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida of “trying to rig” the caucuses. Laura Loomer, a far-right and anti-Muslim activist whom Mr. Trump final yr considered hiring for a campaign post, instructed on social media that “the deep state” was partaking in “climate manipulation” to instigate Iowa’s Friday snowstorm and subzero temperatures to depress Trump turnout on Monday. And Donald Trump Jr. instructed in a Telegram video that “we are able to’t take something as a right, or assume that the whole lot goes to be on the up and up. We’ve seen this rodeo earlier than.”
These claims usually are not more likely to be met with a lot help from Iowa Republicans and the celebration volunteers who will function the 1,657 caucus websites throughout the state.
“If Trump says it’s fraud, he’s stuffed with crap,” mentioned A.J. Spiker, a former chairman of the Republican Celebration of Iowa who’s backing Mr. DeSantis.
Nonetheless, Iowa Republicans purpose to guard themselves from campaigns claiming foul play on the caucuses.
At every web site, caucusgoers mark their presidential preferences on paper slips. These slips are then counted in full view of whoever needs to look at. Sometimes a consultant from every marketing campaign watches the counting, and recording is allowed.
“It’s essentially the most clear straw vote you could possibly probably do,” Mr. Spiker mentioned.
Mr. Trump’s pre-emptive Iowa fraud claims final month adopted a flub by Mr. DeSantis’s spouse, Casey DeSantis. She called on supporters to “descend upon the state of Iowa to be part of the caucus.”
“You wouldn’t have to be a resident of Iowa to have the ability to take part within the caucus,” she mentioned.
That earned Ms. DeSantis a rebuke from the state Republican Celebration.
Solely Iowans can take part within the caucuses. Republican volunteers are alleged to test for photograph identification on the caucus websites. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign instructed then that the DeSantis marketing campaign had professed a “plot to rig the caucus by way of fraud.”
One other candidate who has trafficked in conspiracies and has been sowing doubt about Iowa’s caucuses is Vivek Ramaswamy, who didn’t qualify for current debates.
“The mainstream media is making an attempt to rig the Iowa G.O.P. caucus in favor of the company candidates who they will management,” Mr. Ramaswamy said in a marketing campaign video this week. “Don’t fall for his or her trick. They don’t need you to listen to from me concerning the reality.”
Voting rights teams and disinformation specialists say the pre-emptive cries about fraud and rigged elections have turn out to be one thing of a brand new regular.
“This follows the final playbook, the election denier playbook of simply pre-emptively laying the groundwork for claims of fraud within the occasion of a loss,” mentioned Emma Steiner, the Data Accountability Mission Supervisor at Widespread Trigger, a left-leaning voting rights group. “It’s type of future-proofing.”
Certainly, Mr. Trump has lengthy trumpeted baseless claims of fraud or rigging earlier than an election. In 2016, weeks earlier than Election Day, Mr. Trump started questioning the veracity of mail ballots in Colorado, citing little proof. After he gained the 2016 election, Mr. Trump claimed that widespread fraud value him the favored vote (it did not), and he launched a fee to analyze voter fraud within the nation (it folded with out any significant findings).
The Trump workforce has referred to as elections rigged even when he’s not taking part in them. When the 2020 Democratic caucuses melted down due to a defective app and a disorganized state celebration, Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign questioned whether or not the outcomes have been “being rigged towards Bernie Sanders.” His sons went additional.
“Mark my phrases, they’re rigging this factor,” Eric Trump wrote on Twitter the evening of the 2020 caucuses. “What a multitude.”