As the United States presidential election enters its final days, Republican nominee Donald Trump continues to express his lack of trust toward the election’s legitimacy, recently stating that he believes the poll results are being “rigged” in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton. While he has made these claims in the past, these recent statements of an unfair election process have been made since Clinton has gained a nine-point lead over Trump in the polls, partially due to recent sexual assault allegations filed against the New York businessman. Trump has offered little evidence for why he election system may be unfair; nevertheless, his statements continue to raise concern for the difficulty of this year’s political transition, which in previous years has been relatively peaceful. Trump’s accusations against the media and the American political system have raised distrust in democracy among the country’s citizens, leading many to believe that there is no purpose of voting if the results will be altered. However, it is likely that while Trump’s controversial statements often cause public debate, recent claims are likely being used as diversions from previous scandals, for fear of receiving a poor reputation in the event of losing the election, and to inflict fear upon the public (thus coercing voters to support him) through threatening to appeal the final results.
According to Jill Colvin’s article for the Public Broadcasting Service, “Trump Challenges Legitimacy of Election,” the billionaire has often focused his political comments on opponent Hillary Clinton, vowing to incarcerate Clinton for her leaked e-mail messages and mistakes leading to the 2012 attacks on U.S. government officials in Benghazi, and even attempting to insinuate that the former Secretary of State had used drugs prior to the second presidential debate. In response to the sexual assault allegations reported in the days since the leaking of a lewd recording in which Trump is heard speaking of his sexual relations with women in a violent manner, he is quoted accusing the media of selection bias, responding, “The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president.” Statements like these have become increasingly common due to his slip in preference polls. Trump likely understands that most Americans are not pleased with his behavior, and therefore shows voters that while they may not be fond of him, they may have more to lose if he does not win the presidency. The article, although expressing bias against Trump (often calling his statements “bizarre,” “wild,” and “baseless”), uses direct quotations of the candidate’s speeches in the effort to communicate to the public that due to his lack of evidence, his claims are therefore inadequate.
A Huffington Post article entitled “Trump Digs In On Claims Of ‘Rigged’ Election” discusses several of the points listed in the aforementioned article, but with a heavy focus on the candidate’s social media activity and statements about how he will handle the election results if he loses in November. Much like what is highlighted in the PBS article, Trump’s statements for his supporters to “keep an eye” on voting locations (which some critics have speculated to be about intimidating voters) and criticism of the electoral system have increased since Clinton’s lead, which has led him to threaten not to accept the outcome if he is not elected. The article then speaks of the United States’ complicated relations with Russia and other countries’ possible effects on the U.S. election. Huffington Post is a niche journalism website, often directed towards liberal millennials. However, the article itself reads as a traditional news source, showing little bias.
The final source, NPR’s short podcast on Trump’s claims of a “rigged” election, uses the words of an expert from the Ohio State University, who declines the candidate’s claims of unfairness; a “rigged” election would not solely be caused by the candidate’s own words, but would be represented by extremely close ranks in polls. The expert states that Trump and Pence’s claims of the election being unfair are completely untrue. However, although originally stating that they would accept the results in November, both are now saying that it may not now be the case. The source appears to be the least biased of the three mentioned, using the words of experts and several of Trump’s own quotes to give the listener a full understanding of the situation.
Overall, the articles prove Trump’s statements are fueled by a fear of losing, though they are worded in ways that appeal to their audiences (Huffington focusing on millennials, PBS and NPR targeting older adults).
Colvin, Jill. “Trump Challenges Legitimacy of Election.” PBS. NewsHour Productions, 15 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
Donald Trump Steps Up Claims The Election Is ‘Rigged’ National Public Radio, 2016.
Stephenson, Emily, and Alana Wise. “Trump Digs In On Claims Of ‘Rigged’ Election.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.