Even if her party’s candidate wins the 2020 presidential election — both the popular vote and the Electoral College — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has expressed concern that President Donald Trump won’t voluntarily leave the White House, unless a Democratic contender wins in a big way.
In an interview from the New York Times published on Saturday, Pelosi warned that Trump could try to contest the results of the election if the outcome wasn’t a “big” enough win for Democrats.
There’s plenty of reasons to question whether Trump will try to suggest the results are dubious — including the fact that he’s done so in the past. In 2016, Trump secured the Electoral College win for the presidency without winning the popular vote, which his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had won.
Yet Trump denied that he had lost the popular vote, stating on Twitter that his “loss” was only due to “millions of people who voted illegally” in the race — a charge that, per reporting from the Washington Post, cannot be corroborated by evidence of any kind.
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Pelosi stated in her interview with the Times that Democrats should be prepared for similar statements from Trump in 2020, and the possibility that Trump won’t step down even if he loses, unless it’s in a huge or blatantly obvious way.
“We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi hearkened back to the 2018 midterm elections, stating that those races, which saw the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives and thus provide a “check” on the president’s powers, were necessary to win.
Pelosi fears Trump won't leave White House if he loses by small margin in 2020 https://t.co/meg2NTbcXA
— The Independent (@Independent) May 5, 2019
“We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine,” Pelosi said. “So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach.”
Trump also sought to cast doubt on the outcome of those elections, alleging as he did in 2016 that there was widespread “illegal voting,” per reporting from CNN.
Pelosi argued that the best way to ensure a huge election win against Trump was for Democrats not to venture too far to the left.
“Our passions [in 2018] were for health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government — a simple message,” she said. Democrats, she argued, should stick to that winning strategy.