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An Election Day prediction: Either way, it will be an ugly moment

An Election Day prediction: Either way, it will be an ugly moment
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Like a lot of other so-called pundits, I thought I knew who was going to win the last presidential election. But my crystal ball let me down. It humbled me; I learned my lesson. So this time around, I’m not making any predictions on who’s going to win. 

But there’s one thing of which I am fairly certain –– and it’s that Nov. 4 is going to be one ugly day in these United States of America.

Let’s say Joe BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE wins. You know that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE is going to say the election was rigged. He has already said it, more than once. In Oshkosh, Wis., last week the president declared: “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged.”

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During the 2016 campaign, he repeatedly said the election was rigged –– and even after he won, he said the fix was in. He claimed there was “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California,” three states he failed to carry. He said that millions of illegal votes were the reason he lost the popular vote. 

So, if he claimed fraud even after he won, it’s a safe bet that he’ll claim fraud if he loses.

And if Donald Trump wins, I’m guessing that Democrats will say he stole the election. 

They’re already saying he’s trying to suppress the vote. Democratic candidate Joe Biden is quoted as telling a fundraiser, “They’re going around literally with tractor trailers, picking up mailboxes.” And House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrat says he won't introduce resolution to censure Greene after her apology Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe 21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol on Jan. 6 MORE (D-Calif.) said: “Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the president’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters.”

Donald Trump could carry 49 states (he won’t, of course) and the Democrats would still scream that he stole the election.

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So this is what we have to look forward to after Election Day: Both sides claiming the fix was in –– if Joe Biden loses, or if Donald Trump loses.

And it won’t help if we don’t know who won within, say, 24 hours of the election. If Trump is right, and the results aren’t known for days or weeks because of mail-in voting, that will only fan the flames and give more ammunition to everyone who believes the election was rigged.

And why does it matter what they say or believe? Because it will erode trust in the election. It will further polarize America. It will encourage more resistance to whoever is eventually declared the winner. And the president, whether it’s Trump or Biden, will have to govern under a dark cloud of suspicion and mistrust. Millions of Americans won’t see the winner as legitimate.

If you think we’re divided now, just wait until Nov. 4.

Bernard Goldberg, an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist, is a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” He previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.