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Published on November 7, 2020 3:02 AM

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The election that broke the Republican Party
Never has the unprecedented been so utterly predictable.

At the conclusion of a campaign that exceeded their expectations in almost every sense — picking up House seats, thwarting an outright Democratic takeover of the Senate, running competitively in every presidential battleground state — Republicans could have walked away from 2020 with some dignity intact. They could have conceded defeat to Joe Biden, celebrated their hard-fought successes elsewhere and braced for the battles ahead.

But that was never going to happen. This is Donald Trump's party — at least, for another 76 days — and no Republican who hopes to remain relevant after he's gone was going to deny him the bloody farewell he's been building toward.

Did we really think the president worked so diligently these past eight months to create an environment conducive to allegations of mass voter fraud, only to stop short of alleging mass voter fraud? Of course not. Even if the president had been swept in every swing state, and by big margins, he was always going to cry foul. That he lost such close contests — and lost them in a style so unfamiliar to so many voters — only made his reaction all the more inevitable.

"If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," Trump said from the White House on Thursday night, using the world's most powerful podium to accuse the world's most powerful nation of becoming a banana republic. He impugned crooked Democratic political machines that were allegedly denying access to Republican canvassing observers. He decried the "election interference" wrought by inaccurate poll numbers (a phrase the president has never used with regard to Russia). But his biggest complaint was ...