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Trump could convince Republicans to suspend American democracy.

NICHOLAS KAMM / Getty Images

That’s the suggestion of new polling published in The Washington Post on Thursday by Yeshiva University professor Ariel Malka and University of Pennsylvania professor Yphtach Lelkes. In their survey, the academics asked voters, “If Donald Trump were to say that the 2020 presidential election should be postponed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote, would you support or oppose postponing the election?” They then asked how voters would feel if Trump and Republicans in Congress were to make this argument.

The responses from Republicans were horrifying, if not entirely surprising: “52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this.” Perhaps this is because, as the poll also found, nearly half of GOP voters believe Trump won the popular vote against Hillary Clinton last year (he did not) and strong majorities embrace his false claims about widespread vote fraud.

If Republican leaders ever proposed such a delay, Malka and Lelkes note, “there would be a torrent of opposition, which would most likely include prominent Republicans. Financial markets would presumably react negatively to the potential for political instability. And this is to say nothing of the various legal and constitutional complications that would immediately become clear.” Yet, they wrote, “it is also conceivable that a high-stakes and polarized debate would do the exact opposite.” Partisanship and political tribalism could cause even more Republicans to back a delay.

This is just a hypothetical, of course. A delay would be Trump’s most overt undermining of American democracy as president. But given how many democratic norms he’s already discarded, it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.