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Even before the public learned of the reporting problems, political operatives and agitators outside of the Democratic Party were sowing distrust in the Iowa caucus.
It started with tweets by a conservative activist group called Judicial Watch. The group’s head, Tom Fitton, tweeted out about a report they recently released, claiming several of the state’s counties had more voters on their rolls than eligible voters in the county. Their specific claim was quickly debunked, as have been all recent panics about widespread voter fraud. Journalist Judd Legum of Popular Information put out a comprehensive takedown, demonstrating that Judicial Watch’s numbers were incorrect and its conclusions were misguided. Their claims were even refuted by Iowa’s Republican secretary of state.
Nevertheless, the claim spread on social media as Judicial Watch’s tweets about the report garnered thousands of retweets, and the confusion around the Iowa caucuses’ vote-counting process offered new opportunities for Judicial Watch and other fearmongers to pile on. President Trump’s sons suggested that the caucus is being rigged. And his campaign manager said that it “would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process.”
This is a grimly familiar playbook from the Trump administration and its allies, and we are likely just seeing the opening salvo in a campaign to undermine trust in the results of the 2020 election if it doesn’t go his way.