Rasmussen Reports—the electronic media company perhaps best known in American politics for its Republican-leaning polling service—sent out a tweet thread on Sunday morning that invoked Soviet strongman Josef Stalin.
The tweet thread—starting with a quote attributed to Stalin that might not be something he actually ever said—appeared to appeal to Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
As a result, Stalin trended on Twitter Monday afternoon as politicians, media members, and others reacted to the unusual appeal.
The four-tweet thread, published Sunday morning via Rasmussen's Twitter account, began with a quote the account attributed to the infamous dictator, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." It then noted that Pence would "be presented with the sealed certificates containing the ballots of the presidential electors."
On Dec. 14, electors in individual states met for the Electoral College phase of the 2020 presidential election, which further confirmed that Joe Biden secured the electoral votes required to win the 2020 election. The Jan. 6 certification in Congress is widely regarded as a ceremonial event that is, in normal times, another step in the transition from one administration to the next.
But a number of Trump supporters are looking for some way to reverse what a majority of voters and Electoral College voters have already said. Rasmussen suggests, via tweet, that Pence could be that conduit.
"At that moment, the Presidency will be in his hands," Rasmussen suggests ominously, before asserting, "And there is nothing stopping Pence, under the (plenary and unappealable) authority vested in him as President of the Senate, from declining to open and count the certificates from the six disputed states."
The tweet doesn't specify which six states' contests are still "disputed," but in the next tweet, that expands to seven to allow for a little hopeful math.
"If they are (as more than 70% of Republicans believe) certificates from non-electors appointed via voter fraud, why should he open & count them?" Rasmussen asks, before positing, "If the votes of all 7 contested states are registered as zero, President Trump will have 232 votes, Joe Biden will have 222."
It then floats that Trump would, per the 12th Amendment, have a majority of electoral votes and would then regain office.
The account helpfully added an insinuation that Thomas Jefferson fixed the 1800 presidential election in his own favor—though the Electoral College dispute between Jefferson and John Adams was resolved with a transfer of power from a sitting president to a president-elect.
Though the merits of the argument are certainly up for debate—starting with the assertion that any of the results are still being legitimately contested—reactions from the Twitterverse on Monday came from the appearance that an American polling company is quoting Stalin in what appears to be advocacy of reversing the will of the people.
Amy Siskind, a noted anti-Trump activist, remarked, "Rasmussen, an election pollster, is quoting Stalin in a call to overturn the election."
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) noted, "It's virtually never a good sign when anyone credulously quotes Stalin, especially when they're applying his thinking to American elections."
And as Playboy senior White House reporter Brian J. Karem observed, "You really are on the wrong side of history if you're quoting Stalin."
(Furthermore, Rasmussen may not even be right about it being a Stalin quote; USA Today questioned the veracity of the statement attributed to Stalin in a fact-checking article it ran last month.)
According to FiveThirtyEight, Rasmussen is less reliable than a number of other pollsters it relies on for its political forecasting, but far from the most unreliable. Rasmussen's C+ rating from FiveThirtyEight places it below such pollsters as Survey USA, YouGov, and Quinnipiac University, but ahead of Harris Insights & Analytics, SurveyMonkey, and Strategic Vision LLC, the latter of which is on FiveThirtyEight's "banned" list.
Rasmussen has a reputation for leaning Republican in its polling; FiveThirtyEight reports a 1.5 mean-reverted bias toward Republicans for Rasmussen polls.
Indeed, when Trump reached a 50 percent approval rating nearly two and a half years into his presidency, it was a Rasmussen poll skewing well above the average of approval ratings for that time frame. Trump was proud enough about hitting the elusive 50% mark to share it with the world.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Rasmussen Reports for comment.