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Supporters of former President Donald Trump wear his campaign hats while he gives remarks at the South Texas International airport on November 19, 2023 in Edinburg, Texas. (Photo by Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images)

Could President Ron DeSantis persuade grassroots Republicans to support overturning an election that he lost?

Lay aside whether he’d be willing to stoop to such a thing. Imagine that he, not Donald Trump, had lost the 2020 race to Joe Biden and tried running the same “Stop the Steal” playbook. Do we think that episode would have ended the same way, with moon-eyed goons punching cops outside the Capitol on January 6 in hopes of breaking in and halting the count?

I do not.

Let’s try another hypothetical. Trump wins reelection next fall and returns to the White House triumphant in 2025. But instead of taking “retribution” on his enemies, he surprises everyone by governing more or less like a Paul Ryan Republican. Not entirely—there’ll be a crackdown on the border in any Trump 2.0 scenario, however fanciful—but all of the nonsense about defeating the “deep state” and rooting out “vermin” goes out the window, possibly due to sheer laziness. Would most Republican voters consider a second term like that to be a grave disappointment relative to what Trump had promised them as a candidate?

I doubt it.

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