GOP: Electoral College voters will back Trump

GOP: Electoral College voters will back Trump
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Republican state party chairmen and local officials expect nearly every GOP elector to fulfill their pledges to vote for Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHuckabee on Trump priorities: ‘A beheading is still worse than a sunburn’ Dan Rather pleads for Trump to pay attention to Portland murders Trudeau says Trump was ’robust,’ 'frank’ with him MORE for president on Monday when delegates gather across the country to cast their Electoral College ballots.

Despite a media frenzy around the scattered groups of liberals suggesting a groundswell of Republican opposition to Trump, there is little evidence to suggest that many GOP voters will go against the popular vote in their home states.

An Associated Press poll of more than 330 electors published Thursday found similarly long odds for any Electoral College revolt, with both Democrats and Republicans convinced Trump will clinch the vote Monday.

The Hill reached state party chairmen or officials for 10 of the 30 states Trump won in November, accounting for 170 of the 270 electoral votes he needs to win. 

The officials in those states, most of whom said they are in close contact with their full slate of delegates and are working in tandem with the Republican National Committee’s whip operation, promised to deliver 169 of the 170 electoral votes up for grabs. 

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“We’re certain about how our electors will vote,” Florida GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia told The Hill. “There is a better chance of Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton for 2020 ‘not a good question,’ says Rahm Emanuel Graham: Comey should be held accountable for acting on bad intel Hillary Clinton condemns 'racist abuse' in Portland attack MORE telling the truth about something than any of our 29 electoral votes going for anyone other than Donald Trump.”

The lone exception is a rebel elector in Texas, who has written an op-ed in the New York Times and said in media interviews that he will not vote for Trump.

Two others have said they will resign in protest. They are likely to be replaced by electors the party is certain will vote for Trump.

A liberal group responsible for fomenting the Electoral College rebellion claims to have at least 20 of the 37 GOP defectors needed to pull an upset and send the election to the House.

Among Republicans on the ground, though, there is no chatter or speculation surrounding that possibility. 

State chairmen and party officials say that the bulk of their conversations with the electors pertain to the logistics of Monday’s vote — when and where the electors are expected to show up — rather than a furious lobbying campaign to ensure their support for Trump.

“We have been in contact with all of North Carolina's electors, and as far as they have told us, they are all very excited and confident in their vote for Donald Trump,” North Carolina GOP spokeswoman Emily Weeks told The Hill.

“Most of the questions and concerns have been about event rehearsal prep and just making sure everyone has their ducks in a row.”

That shouldn’t be a surprise, as delegates to the Electoral College have never in history launched a meaningful challenge to the outcome of a presidential election.

There is more froth than usual around that possibility this year because of Trump’s polarizing campaign and surprise victory over Clinton.

The liberal opposition has generated a cottage industry of online speculation that an Electoral College revolt is a real possibility.

But state party leaders familiar with the thinking of their electors dismiss the speculation as fantasy.

In South Carolina, GOP chairman Matt Moore said he attended a Christmas party with all nine of his state’s electors this week.

“I saw every single one last night, and I’m absolutely confident,” Moore said.

In Arizona, chairman Robert Graham said he’s held a roundtable meeting with his 11 electors and stays in touch through private discussions, much of which is focused on the deluge of angry correspondence and threats they’ve received.

“We’re getting hundreds of thousands of emails, but as it stands, every one of our members signed a pledge to support the nominee before this brouhaha,” Graham said. “Nothing has changed. All 11 will be delivered.”

In Texas — the lone state with a public defector — the state party has not been in contact with the electors. 

One state party official told The Hill they’ve been monitoring delegate activity in the media and through social media posts and would have a working lunch with the group of 38 on Monday, before ballots are cast.

But here, and in every other state, the RNC has been running a parallel whip operation to ensure there are no surprises.

The RNC is holding conference calls with state party leaders, asking the chairmen to do their own whip counts, and reaching out directly to the individual electors.

“They called to ask me who I planned to vote for and I told them Trump,” said Will Hickman, a Texas elector. “There is the one guy who said he’d vote for another Republican, and another who said he’d resign, but I’d be surprised if anyone else voted differently.”

Some state chairs interviewed by The Hill described the RNC’s whip operation as aggressive, while others said it was just the normal course of work designed to keep their finger on the pulse of the electors.

“There’s no panic, they’re just making sure the numbers are properly counted,” said one state GOP chairman.

Republicans feel at ease because most of the electors are Trump supporters and longtime party loyalists who aren’t likely to be swayed by pressure coming from liberals.

They are GOP campaign operatives, strategists, grassroots activists and people who worked to get Trump elected. 

“All of Ohio's electors will vote for Donald Trump on Monday,” said Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges. “We specifically asked the campaign to hand-pick their electors so no issues like this would come up here.”

And in many cases, the electors aren’t allowed to defect.

In South Carolina, there are laws against it that could result in criminal charges. Liberals are challenging those laws in Washington and California. A lawsuit in Colorado went against the challengers this week, with the federal judge calling it a “political stunt.”

In North Carolina, if an elector were to try and defect, the secretary of State would deem that person to have resigned and would assign an alternate to vote for Trump.

The same is true in Michigan, although party officials there say it won’t come to that.

“We have been in contact with all of our electors and fully anticipate all of them to cast their ballots for Donald J. Trump for president and Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PencePence takes a lap at Indy 500 Colbert imagines Trump’s postcards home during foreign trip Trump and Russia: A timeline on communications MORE for vice president,” said Michigan GOP executive director Steve Ostrow.

There is still a possibility that rogue electors aren’t going public with their plans to avoid controversy.

That’s what the opposition, led by liberal activist and Harvard professor Larry Lessig, is banking on. 

Lessig, who is spearheading the effort from Iceland, believes many electors have buyer’s remorse and are spooked by swirling stories about Russia’s involvement in the election and Trump’s conflicts of interest.

“No one should overestimate the possibility of something significant happening Monday,” he said. “But it’s certainly the case that never in history have we had such a significant resistance by electors at this stage. A week ago we had one [rogue elector], now I’m confident we have 20. These issues are inducing people to second-guess their commitments and their numbers continue to increase.”

But the GOP leaders reached by The Hill are mostly just eager for Monday to come and go so their lives can return to normal.

“Less than zero percent chance any of Idaho's four electors will cast ballots for anyone other than the overwhelming winner of our state, President-elect Donald Trump,” said Idaho GOP chairman Steven Yates.

“We have been in regular contact with them. They have weathered a truly sad bullying campaign via phone, email and social media. They are standing strong by the will of our voters.”