Warning that democracy itself is in peril, President Joe Biden last night called on Americans to use their ballots in next week's midterm elections to stand up against lies, violence and dangerous "ultra MAGA" election disruptors who he said are trying to "succeed where they failed" in subverting the 2020 elections.
As The Associated Press points out, some Republicans sharply criticized Biden's remarks. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who stands to be speaker of the House if the GOP retakes control of the chamber, tweeted: "President Biden is trying to divide and deflect at a time when America needs to unite – because he can't talk about his policies that have driven up the cost of living. The American people aren't buying it."
Neither is Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal, who did some fact-checking on Biden's warnings about "dangers to democracy." Below are several of the president's remarks, followed by Lucas's delve into the facts.
Democracy on the ballot?
Biden: "American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refused to accept the results of the 2020 election. If he refuses to accept the will of the people [and] he refuses to accept the fact that he lost, he has abused his power and put the loyalty to himself before loyalty to the Constitution."
Biden: "Democracy itself [is at stake]. I'm not the only one who sees it. Recent polls have shown an overwhelming majority of Americans believe our democracy is at risk, that our democracy is under threat. They, too, see that democracy is on the ballot this year."
In actuality (according to a New York Times poll cited by Lucas), Americans view several other things – including Democrats – as greater threats to democracy than Republicans.
Lucas: "… The poll found about one-third, or 33%, viewed Democrats as a threat to democracy, while fewer, 28%, think Republicans are a threat. Also, 59% of respondents said the mainstream media was a threat to democracy.
"A majority of Republicans, 55%, said voting by mail posed a threat to democracy, but 72% of Democrats supported it. Fewer than half of independents, 48%, said mail-in voting presented no threat."
Lucas also points out that an overwhelming 81% of those who think democracy is in danger trust existing law and institutions can save it without the need to go outside the law.
Biden: "It's estimated that there are more than 300 election deniers on the ballot all across America this year. We can't ignore the impact this is having on our country. It's damaging, it's corrosive, and it's destructive."
Lucas confirms the alleged number of "election deniers," citing reports from CBS News and The Brookings Institution. However, he points out the Democrats themselves can be blamed for many of those GOP candidates being on the ballot at all.
Lucas: "Biden's party, through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Majority PAC and the Democratic Governors Association, spent more than $43 million in Republican primary contests in nine states to help push candidates considered 'election deniers' to the GOP nomination …. The thinking was that these candidates would be easier to beat."
The Daily Signal also notes that the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton – along with one-third of her supporters – should also be labeled as "election deniers." A poll comparing the two previous presidential elections found similarities between the two major parties when it comes to viewing an election as "fair," suggesting that denial of election results is expected when one's party comes up short in a close election.
Biden: "[Donald Trump has] made a big lie an article of faith in the MAGA Republican Party. The extreme MAGA element of the Republican Party, which is a minority of that party …, is trying to succeed where they failed in 2020: to suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself."
As Lucas notes, the president – who has been critical in the past of election reforms – offered no specifics on how the Republican Party is doing that. But early voter turnout suggests if the GOP is attempting to suppress voting, it's not working.
Lucas: "Georgia has experienced soaring turnout this year for early voting, both in-person and absentee voting, compared to previous midterm elections. The turnout is almost on par with the early voting in the 2020 presidential election – which is unusual.
"Also [in the Georgia] primary, there was a 168% overall increase in 2022, compared with the 2018 primary."
Higher voter turnout this election cycle isn't limited to Georgia, which is one of three states Biden's Department of Justice has sued alleging voter suppression (Arizona and Texas are the other two). As The Daily Signal notes, a recent Gallup poll shows more than 40% of Americans have already voted (or plan to vote early); four years ago, that number was 34%. "CNN reported that more than 24 million votes were already cast across 46 states that allow early voting," the article adds.