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Happy Tuesday and welcome to US Election Countdown. Today we’re talking about:

Donald Trump and his Maga crowd are still singing a familiar tune: the 2020 election was rigged.

Their continued doubt around the integrity of US ballots has raised alarm bells within a group dedicated to supporting elections in fragile democracies — usually beyond America’s shores. [Free to read].

The Carter Center’s Democracy Program, started by former president Jimmy Carter, is stepping up its election monitoring efforts in the US. It will support non-partisan election observation missions in up to five US states: New Mexico, Montana, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia, of which the last three are swing states.

The centre is known for its work monitoring elections in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela and Sierra Leone.

“We have taken our international election observation expertise and have needed to turn it inward to the United States,” Carter Center’s chair Jason Carter told the FT’s Andrew Jack.

“We’ve done a variety of cross-partisan initiatives to help bring our expertise to bear on the troubling aspects of our American democracy,” he added. The group stresses that it has no stake in the outcome of the 2024 race.

The Carter Center began its support of US election observers in 2020. Two years later, it threw more resources at its domestic programme, aiming to “strengthen trust in the US electoral process”.

The Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance rates the US as “a high-performing democracy”, though there have been “significant declines” in the past five years on a number of metrics.

For its part, the Carter Center said in an earlier report that the US:

Is going through a tumultuous period of domestic unrest, one of the most polarised in American history . . . Too often, those on the opposite sides of the political divide seek to manipulate the outcome of elections in their favour through the laws and regulations that govern how our elections are conducted.

Campaign clips: the latest election headlines

Behind the scenes

Donald Trump clenches his fist
Donald Trump at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Policy Conference on Saturday © Getty images

Evangelical Christians are a core part of the US right, and Trump is trying to fire them up to vote in record numbers in November.

Trump spoke to influential evangelical leaders at the weekend, warning them that Christianity would be under threat during a second Biden term. He portrayed himself as a defender of the faith — one with “a lot of wounds” from political persecution.

Ralph Reed, founder and chair of the influential Faith & Freedom Coalition, introduced Trump as a “tireless, indefatigable champion of faith and freedom and this great country”.

He did, however, hint at critics’ initial scepticism of the ex-president’s commitment to evangelical voters:

They told us we couldn’t trust him. They told us he wouldn’t keep his word. But as president of the United States, he kept every single promise he made to us.

Though Trump was not the first choice for many evangelical voters in 2016 (he had been married three times and struggled to name his favourite Bible verse), they make up a critical part of his base. 

A Pew survey from earlier this month showed that about 80 per cent of white evangelical Protestant voters said they would vote for Trump if the election were held today. He also drew strong support from white non-evangelical Protestants and white Catholics, with 57 and 61 per cent, respectively, saying they planned to vote for him.

Datapoint

The monthly FT-Michigan Ross poll has consistently found that voters with a family income of above $100,000 are more likely than those in other wage brackets to trust Biden over Trump to handle the US economy.

Support for Biden among this cohort was the highest of any income group, even though the president has focused his economic messaging on middle-class voters.

In the June edition of the survey, 45 per cent of respondents in the $100,000+ income bracket said Biden would be a better steward of the economy than Trump, up from 39 per cent in May. Forty per cent of respondents in this category favoured Trump on economic matters.

US millionaires have also signalled support for Biden’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, suggesting that the idea of higher levies on extreme wealth is gaining traction with the upper-middle class.

A YouGov poll of Americans with assets other than their home worth more than $1mn showed that most supported a progressive US tax system.

“Most millionaires in the United States understand that the inequality we’re seeing now is destabilising our nation,” said Morris Pearl, chair of Patriotic Millionaires, which commissioned the YouGov survey. “We really have to do something about that before it’s too late.”

Viewpoints

  • The price of petrol could still cause problems for Biden, writes Daniel Yergin. 

  • For decades, the supply-side agenda of economic policy has belonged to the right in both the US and UK — but that’s changing now, says Andy Haldane. 

  • Hillary Clinton is the only person to have debated both Trump and Biden. She shares what she’ll be watching for on Thursday. (NYT)

  • Thursday’s debate will be Biden’s moment to show voters who the real economic populist is, argues John Cassidy. (The New Yorker)

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