In the majority of swing states the GOP put forth state-level candidates who didn’t only deny the results of the 2020 elections.
They suggested that, if elected in their states, they would carry the gospel of voter fraud, stolen elections, and MAGA forward, using the power of their office to tilt the playing field in favor of the GOP or outright deny Democrats victories.
Fringe as their viewpoints may have been, it was unclear going into Election Day how these candidates would do; many seemed to have the wind at their backs.
But by Wednesday morning, it became clear: In races across the country — from Pennsylvania governor to Arizona secretary of state — those candidates appear to have lost.
An overwhelming number of election deniers ran for political office this year. One recent tally from CBS News found that 308 of the 597 Republicans running for various elected offices this midterm cycle either explicitly said they believed the 2020 election was stolen, promoted conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, supported a post-2020 audit, or have otherwise been cagey about whether they believed Joe Biden was legitimately elected. A separate tally from FiveThirtyEight found that 60 percent of voters would have an election denier on their ballot.
The CBS report also found that election deniers ran in major races across 48 states. Only Rhode Island and North Dakota don’t have a Big Lie supporter on the ballot. And many of them have vowed to change their states’ election processes.
In crucial 2020 (and 2024) states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Wisconsin, election deniers attempted to secure key state positions.
Doug Mastriano, who was spotted beyond broken-down police barriers at the Capitol on January 6, ran on a platform of election denialism.
He personified the idea, spending much of 2021 trying to oversee an ill-fated attempt to conduct an Arizona-style election audit in Pennsylvania.
That went nowhere, as did Mastriano’s candidacy for governor: He appears to have lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro by more than 10 percent. He has yet to concede. But Pennsylvania is one of a few purple states where the governor has the power to appoint the secretary of state; the possibility of an election administrator hand-picked by Mastriano now looks to be off the table.
Other election deniers, like Minnesota secretary of state candidate Kim Crockett, have gone down to defeat. Michigan Secretary of State incumbent Jocelyn Benson fended off a challenge from Kristina Karamano, who claims to have personally witnessed voter fraud in action during the 2020 contest. So did her ticket-mate Dana Nessel, who prevailed over Matthew DePerno to win another term as attorney general. DePerno is being investigated for allegedly tampering with vote tabulators in various Michigan counties in the spring of 2021, part of a search he and fellow activists conducted for “proof” of the Big Lie.
But in their verve for election denial, the only real match for Mastriano was Arizona’s Mark Finchem. Clad in a ten gallon hat and filled with conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, Finchem is contending for the post of Arizona’s top election official.
He’s also a proponent of the pipe dream that it’s still possible to decertify Biden’s 2020 win in Arizona — a backwards-looking campaign if there ever was one.
Finchem is currently trailing the Democrat in the returns, though the result is too early to call.
Kari Lake, who ran for governor of Arizona, vowed to overhaul the state’s election system; she’s currently trailing closely behind Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs in a race that she clearly expected to win. During a speech at her headquarters on Tuesday night, she alleged that “incompetency” was present at both the primary and general elections, and set the stage for a claim of election fraud.
“We need honest elections and we’re going to bring them to you, Arizona. I assure you of that,” she said. “The system we have right now does not work.”
Next door, Jim Marchant, the Republican candidate for Nevada’s secretary of state, promised to secure a Trump victory in 2024. That race, too, is too close to call, but Marchant is one of the election deniers who still stands a chance, enjoying a slight lead over opponent Cisco Aguilar (D) as of Wednesday morning.
Some of the candidates tried to walk back their denialism after they won their primaries, probably because it doesn’t poll well. Don Bolduc of New Hampshire, for example, famously flipped his position after boasting about denying the 2020 election up until that point.
It appears to not have helped him in the end: He lost to Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, who’s so far captured 53.7% of the vote compared to his 44.3%. He conceded to the incumbent Tuesday night.