“Imagine this: Trump narrowly loses -- by 20-ish electoral votes -- in 2020. He refuses to concede, insists there has been widespread election fraud and notes that Democrats (and the media) have been trying to steal from him since he was elected in 2016,” Cillizza wrote with a link to a piece published on CNN’s website headlined, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?”
Cillizza used recent comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as the impetus for his fictional piece.
“If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election,” she told The New York Times last week. “He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races. He would say you can’t seat these people.”
Cillizza declared it “might sound like exaggeration from Pelosi,” but “it isn’t.”
“Since the moment he won the White House in November 2016, Trump has shown a willingness -- actually more of a proclivity -- to entertain the idea that there is some sort of broad conspiracy aimed at trying to disenfranchise conservative voters,” Cillizza wrote. “What Trump hasn't abandoned is his belief that -- somehow, someway -- Republicans (and him in particular) aren't getting a fair shake in these elections.”
Cillizza continued: “It's not much of a stretch then to imagine that Trump, if he does come up short in the 2020 election, wouldn't be willing to simply go quietly into that good night.”
Cillizza’s tweet promoting the column was quickly mocked, with multiple critics pointing out that Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams claims she won the state's 2018 gubernatorial race, despite losing to now-Gov. Brian Kemp.
Other criticized the CNN analyst for the “hypothetical nonsense,” as one follower put it. The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson wrote, “I, too, would like to write articles about fictional scenarios I imagined.”
Cillizza ended his piece by telling readers to close their eyes and imagine that Trump “refuses to concede, insists there has been widespread election fraud and notes that Democrats (and the media) have been trying to steal from him since he was elected in 2016… Doesn't seem all that outlandish, does it?”
Cillizza’s tweet was ratioed, meaning the number of replies significantly outweighs the retweets and likes. Meanwhile, media watchdogs noticed that Cillizza is no stranger to being mocked on social media.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Frank Miles contributed to this report.