What Happens If Trump Just Straight-Up Refuses To Concede The Election?

It’s not super far-fetched to imagine Donald Trump straight-up refusing to concede the US presidential election if he loses. After all, the man’s been getting away with doing whatever the fuck he wants for four years now.

Just last month, Trump himself said “we’re gonna have to see what happens” when asked if there’d be a peaceful transition of power after the election.

Even his former lawyer Michael Cohen said “there will never be a peaceful transition of power” if Trump lost the election.

If Trump wins decisively, there’s no issue (from a legal perspective). But if he doesn’t – Joe Biden has been leading quite comfortably in the polls – there are a few scenarios which might play out.

So… what would happen if actually did just refuse to concede the election?

The short answer is that we have no fucking idea, because this has never happened before in the United States.

The long answer is more interesting.

Scenario 1: Nothing happens

On the week of the election, the opposition party always gets access to government office space and funding for security clearances.

That’s exactly what Biden’s team is doing, and things are supposedly going quite smoothly.

If Biden wins, come January 20 Trump would very suddenly become nothing more than an unwelcome guest in the White House, “if not an interloper”, according to one constitutional expert.

So Trump can say what he wants, but Biden literally already has his foot in the door.

Scenario 2: Trump goes to court

While it’s not up to the presidential candidates to decide if the results are valid, they’re still entitled to contest the results in court.

That happened as recently as 2000, when Democratic candidate Al Gore petitioned the Florida courts to hold a recount after he said the results were too close to call.

Eventually, George W Bush‘s campaign got the US Supreme Court to halt the recount, and Gore then accepted the outcome.

This time around, Trump has already been stirring shit about the mail-in ballots being used due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen,” he said about mail-in voting during one of the debates.

That argument could form the basis of a potential legal challenge to either invalidate the vote tallies or call for a recount.

However, doing this across multiple states would be an enormous and time-consuming undertaking.


Scenario 3: Trump gets dragged out of office

Even if Trump claims to be president despite losing the election, he’d need the support of institutional players like senior military officials to actually stay in power.

That’s unlikely, according two senior military strategists who reckon the US Army would have no choice but to forcefully remove him from office.

Another theory, according to one analyst, is that it would be the Secret Service who actually do the deed, not the military.

Either way, it takes more than just a big mouth to become a dictator.

Scenario 4: People start rioting in the streets

If 2020 has reinforced one thing, it’s that the US is no stranger to protests.

If Trump were to refuse to concede defeat, people would be filling the streets before his announcement is even over.

Many of these people would be anti-Trump (or at least against his hypothetical refusal to concede defeat) but many would also be staunchly pro-Trump.

In recent days we’ve seen Trump supporters encircling the Biden campaign’s tour bus, causing them to cancel several public events.

Just imagine what these people, with all their guns and rage, would be doing in the streets if Trump refused to concede defeat.

From here, it’s either back to the previous scenarios or… some kind of collapse we can’t yet envision. Probably the former, thankfully.

If you’re an American and you’re somehow reading this: please, please vote.