Nearly a year has passed since the 2020 election, yet there has not been a clear, satisfactory answer to the central mystery: How did a dull, declining Joe Biden manage to get more than 81 million votes and win the presidency?
After all, Biden spent most of the pandemic-laced campaign in his Delaware basement and his appearances were marked by sparse crowds and signs he had lost more than a step. Yet he flipped five states Hillary Clinton lost in 2016, including Georgia and Arizona, and racked up 306 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 232.
Trump offers his own answer, of course, declaring incessantly that the election was stolen. His efforts to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to block certification of results and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have made his arguments out of bounds for most Americans.
Numerous courts rejected claims made by Trump lawyers involving manipulation of voting machines, bags of secret ballots emerging and other kinds of alleged fraud.
But rejecting Trump’s claims is one thing, solving the riddle of Biden’s triumph is another. Lacking any other explanation, two-thirds of Republicans still believe “the election was rigged and stolen from Trump,” while only 18 percent believe “Joe Biden won fair and square,” according to a recent Yahoo News/YouGov survey. It found that 28 percent of independent voters agree Biden’s victory is illegitimate.
Such wide suspicions are corrosive, which makes the findings of a new book all the more important.
In “Rigged,” author Mollie Hemingway lays out what amounts to a fascinating alternative to the “stolen” charge. She presents a strong case that the $419 million that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ostensibly spent to get out the vote was actually used by Democrat activists to infiltrate local election operations and take over jobs government workers were supposed to do.
Hemingway, a senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox commentator, shows how two Zuckerberg nonprofits used their unprecedented deep pockets to line up left-wing groups in key cities that in turn hired poll workers, collected absentee ballots and cured those with errors.
In Green Bay, Wis., the Democratic mayor outsourced the planning and managing of the election to these activists. Hemingway cites an e-mail from the mayor’s chief of staff saying, “I am taking all of my cues” from one of the Zuckerberg groups.
The city clerk, nominally in charge of the election, was reportedly unhappy with the changes, went on leave shortly before election day and soon resigned.
As Hemingway puts it in excerpts published by The Post, “It was a genius plan. And because no one ever imagined that a coordinated operation could pull off the privatization of the election system, no laws were built to combat it.”
Texas researcher William Doyle crunched the numbers showing how the nonprofits concentrated in areas Biden won, often spending three or four times as much money per voter as they spent in districts Trump won.
“The 2020 election wasn’t stolen,” Doyle concluded. “It was likely bought by one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men pouring his money through legal loopholes.”
He also tracks the Zuckerberg groups’ promotion of universal mail-in voting, the push for unlocked and unwatched drop boxes and extended deadlines.
The pandemic played a major role in many ways, with health fears leading most states to loosen safeguards. But in swing states, left-wing groups outraged by Trump’s 2016 upset of Clinton started plotting early for 2020 and were able to piggyback on the pandemic fears to go even further.
In Pennsylvania, activists had done an end-run around the sleepy Republican Legislature by suing to eliminate protections and getting a Democratic governor to sign a consent decree. A Democratic-heavy state Supreme Court approved it.
In Georgia, a Republican governor signed a consent decree on signatures pushed by Democratic activist Stacey Abrams.
The US Supreme Court made noises about the Constitution’s delegation of power on state elections to legislatures, but never made a major ruling.
Coming on top of how Zuckerberg’s Facebook suppressed The Post’s report on Hunter Biden, Hemingway’s book deserves wide attention, especially from Trump and the GOP.
Although her findings do not mean there was no voter fraud, she offers a more substantive and documented explanation than the “stolen” argument, which remains a political dead-end outside of Trump’s core Republican base.
Party leaders hoping to take back Congress in next year’s midterms would do well to understand the details of how Dems pulled off swing-state victories for Biden.
In some ways, the breakthrough recalls the big leaps in the use of technology Barack Obama’s campaign featured in 2008. In both cases, the intense collection of granular data, combined with armies of young people using it, won the day by turning out targeted voters.
As Hemingway notes, the 2020 effort also broke new ground in having activists replace government workers for election jobs, which made the use of data more efficient. One measure is that the 159 million votes cast represent nearly 67 percent of the eligible population, making the turnout percentage the highest in 120 years, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Although Trump doesn’t have trouble raising money, his campaigns did not feature strong ground games. Both of his races were built around his personality and rallies, which drew enormous crowds. He won more than 74 million votes last year, an increase of 10 million over his 2016 tally, and he sounds very much like a 2024 candidate.
But Biden’s victory exposed the limits of his approach, and now we have a good picture of how Dems did it.
Tellingly, Republicans are furious at what Hemingway uncovered and promise investigations and legislation.
All well and good, but chances they will succeed before the midterms are almost nil. For example, the GOP-led Legislature in Wisconsin passed a bill banning private funding of state operations, but the Democratic governor vetoed it.
So until further notice, Zuck’s Bucks remain the coin of the political realm.
Adams stands with parents
Eric Adams has again proved he will not be the second coming of Mayor Putz.
A Democrat likely to be elected next month, Adams broke with incumbent Bill de Blasio Friday when he said he would not scrap Gifted and Talented programs.
Asked on CNN whether he would eliminate them, as de Blasio urges, Adams replied, “No, I would not, I would expand the opportunities for accelerated learning.”
That’s music to the ears of tens of thousands of parents who keep their children in public schools because of those programs. It’s also the right answer because children with above-average abilities deserve special attention, just as do children who are below average or have disabilities.
Feds’ hush on Hunter
Reader Mary Don asks poignant questions about the probe of Hunter Biden, writing: “What reason did the FBI give for its subpoena for the laptop? What justification can it claim for silence now, after the validation of the laptop’s contents?”
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