The ‘Sore Loser Effect’: How Rejecting Election Results Can Destabilize Democracy And Drive Terrorism | Talking Points Memo

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. It first appeared at The Conversation.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Last election, one group preemptively rejected the possibility of a fair election. The link to terrorism was a prima facie one, and it would have been puzzling if, given Trump’s rhetoric, there was no associated violence. And yet, most press coverage pretends that the linkage that this piece talks about does not exist, and that 1/6 alone was irregular and dangerous, and not the whole shift to a systematic attempt to delegitimize any transfer of power away from a party that safeguards the prerogatives of White Nationalism.


It was known before the 2016 election that tfg was not a suitable person to be president.


It’s hard to report on the “horserace,” if you have to acknowledge that one side isn’t actually trying to run any horses and is just angling to maim or kill them. Plus, spending time to analyze the data and draw valid conclusions is expensive and time consuming. There’s no profit motive in that.


Well said.

Sort of like a nightmare Dick Francis novel (fans of late 20th century detective fiction will get this reference, but for others: you’re not missing much).


"Sore Loser" is perfect framing! I hope others start using it. After all, it was so effective against Gore in the Florida recount.


It is easy for us to blame the MAGA crowd for calling for right wing political violence because of the big lie, but I can’t help but think if the January 6 insurrection had been successful a lot of Democrats would be calling for a violent left wing revolution. That sort of thing happens when one side or the other no longer feels tied to the voters.

It sounds like you’re slipping into false equivalency territory there, not to mention that your comment is completely unnecessary speculation. It’s foolish to use the insane actions of the far right as an opportunity to bash any Democrat, including the left, which remains, you know…democratic.


Trump is the last person one would want to see in a loser’s position in any endeavor, especially political…one which depends on public support; because the latter can be easily lied to.

A couple of bright spots:

(1) Trump was a unique and rare sociopath

(2) We have been forewarned by Trump’s previous words and actions


Using George Orwell’s words as a template rather than a cautionary tale, the GOP had been building up their base to follow “Big Brother,” the only trouble being that they never imagined that someone would morph themselves into the shape of that “Big Brother” and steal their followers out from under them. At which point, it became sink alone or swim with insane narcissist Big Brother.


OT and yet not…:


Good reading…let’s hope that the 19% and the 62% (in their respective categories) get larger. A lot will depend on the Democrats’ maturity, professionalism and appearance of honesty.


But that was the point of the article - “Violence increases and is accepted if at least one side believes the other is cheating.” This is human nature. This post is an example of that and how some would justify it.

It would be false to say that there is equal evidence of cheating (there isn’t), however, the human response to the belief that the other side is cheating is the same and it seems entirely predictable.


My point was why single out the “left wing”, if this is a universal tendency?


Because in this case actual fascists would have siezed control through violence. The right would be celebrating.


You seem to be reading a lot into the article that just isn’t there. The author’s report on his study said nothing about whether the acceptance of violence when results of an election were disputed were more common among those on the left.


2017-2020 were all about being a sore winner. Trump won the the presidency with the EC, but it wasn’t enough, so he made up bullshit about illegal votes in California and sent some attack dogs out to try to scare up evidence. They found nothing, so he started preparing for 2020 with a series of attempts to rig the process and claim that any victory that wasn’t his was illegitimate.


Maybe some Dems, sure. But the actual ACTIONS that we lefties would take would be to march around with signs. Maybe file a few lawsuits, which would be tossed for lack of “standing.”


Counterpoint – The Gore campaign too quickly accepting a losing result in a stolen presidential election in 2000 caused this mess.


We’re agreeing with each other on the article. I also don’t like the pejorative tone of “lefties” in ronbyers comment but I overlooked it the first time. His new framing is worse than useless to intelligent conversation on the topic. Moving on…