After a day of insurgency, 57% of Republicans in the House continue to promote debunked theories of voter fraud.
A pro-Trump mob fueled by conspiracy theories stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, leaving a woman dead and a nation shaken. Yet hours later, the majority of Republicans in the House chose to harbor the same debunked ideas that fueled this insurgency by choosing to reject Arizona’s electoral votes.
These votes had no material effect on the transition of power. Congress meets in joint session to fulfill its legal obligation to count Electoral College votes, but given that Democrats hold a majority in the House and most Senate Republicans were unwilling to object, there was no way forward and the vote failed. A majority of both chambers must reject a state’s votes for an objection to stand.
However, after a day of violent insurgency, it has become all too clear just how dangerous it can be to feed on anti-democratic delusions.
Since Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks announced plans to oppose in early December, the idea has gained traction within the Republican caucus; at one point, as many as 14 Republican senators, led by Senators Josh Hawley (MO) and Ted Cruz (TX), had also pledged to oppose.
Opposing members point to baseless allegations of voting irregularities and say that a large part of their constituents believe the election was stolen as the basis of their position. However, these Republicans have ignored their own role in promoting conspiracy theories around the election. Their concerns also ignore the overwhelming evidence of the absence of widespread voter fraud.
President Donald Trump and the attention of leading Republicans to the normally mundane vote count made Jan. 6 perhaps the last showdown for Trump supporters who believed the election was stolen. Following a rally where they were pushed by the president himself, rioters poured into the Capitol and managed to block the proceedings.
The events of the day seemed to have a clear effect on Republicans in the Senate: in the end, about half of the Senators who planned to oppose changed their minds. Only six – 12 percent of the Republican Senate caucus – voted against. However, a whopping 121 House Republicans, or 57% of the House Republican caucus, chose to vote in favor of the unfounded belief that the Arizona constituency votes were somehow compromised.