Among the more than 150 election deniers expected to win by midnight: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Rep. Greg Pence (Ind.), brother of former Vice President Mike Pence.
But some of the most outspoken election deniers suffered defeat in races deemed winnable by Republicans at the start of the year, including Doug Mastriano, who lost his bid for Pennsylvania governor.
Candidates who questioned or refused to accept President Biden’s victory — 51 percent of the 569 GOP nominees analyzed by The Washington Post, 291 in total — ran in every region of the country and in nearly every state.
Most of the victorious election deniers campaigned on a range of topics, most notably inflation, abortion and crime. Voters who supported them didn’t necessarily do so because of their stance on 2020. But the candidates’ views on election integrity could have lasting effects on American democracy.
Winning candidates for governor, secretary of state and attorney general will hold positions of considerable power to oversee the US election. Tuesday’s unofficial forecasts showed that election deniers will make up a significant majority within the House Republican caucus, with huge influence over the choice of the country’s next speaker, should Republicans claim control of the chamber. The speaker, in turn, would preside over the House in 2024, when the presidential election could be contested again.
Keep track of which election deniers win, lose during the midterms
Tuesday’s result reflected the tricky political calculus of election denial within the GOP. It was a virtual requirement for many Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination, given the importance of a Trump endorsement. Prominent Republicans who defied the former president, most notably Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), were defeated by internal party challenges.
But it wasn’t clear that the claim that the 2020 election had been rigged favored candidates in a tight general election.
Among the winning election deniers on Tuesday was Jen A. Kiggans, a Republican from Virginia who named Rep. Elaine Luria – a member, like Cheney, of the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. One of Luria’s central arguments for voters this fall was the need to quell the anti-democratic forces propelling the day’s violence.
Luria stuck with that theme in her concession speech Tuesday. When she said that her opponent and her supporters had been booed, she said: “No, please don’t boo. The success of this district depends on its success.”
Election deniers would also lose some competitive races. JR Majewski, an Ohio house candidate who attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and attempted to overthrow U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, was among those who went down.
New Hampshire’s Don Bolduc lost to incumbent US Senator Maggie Hassan after he switched between declaring the 2020 election as stolen and legitimate.
Mastriano lost by a large margin to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, despite the state being one of the most politically contested states in the nation. Of the roughly 6 in 10 voters in Pennsylvania who viewed the 2020 election as legitimate, more than 8 in 10 voted for Shapiro, exit polls showed. Of about a third of voters who thought it was fraudulent, about 9 in 10 supported Mastriano.
The Post identified candidates as election deniers if they directly question Biden’s victory, oppose Biden’s electoral college vote count, expressed support for a partisan post-election vote review, filed for lawsuits to undo the 2020 outcome, or attended or expressed support for the Stop the Steal meeting in Washington that preceded the Capitol riots.
Majority of GOP nominees deny or doubt 2020 election results
Tuesday’s election took place as Americans grew increasingly concerned about American democracy, with about 7 in 10 voters saying American democracy is “very” or “somewhat” threatened, according to early exit polls conducted by Edison Research. At the same time, voters expressed greater confidence that their country’s elections will be fair and accurate. About 8 in 10 voters said they were very or somewhat confident that their country’s elections would be fair and accurate.
Jacque Rose, a registered Republican and “mostly Republican” voter from Boise, Idaho, said in an interview Tuesday that she sometimes splits her ticket. The retiree joined a steady stream of voters in a short line at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boise, explaining that her vote was against extremism.
“I’m terrified of what some of these right-wing people are doing to us,” she said. “And I’m in a red state and I’m scared.”
Edward B. Foley, a suffrage scientist at Ohio State University, said the success of so many election deniers is worrying, but there is still a lot of uncertainty about how these office holders will use their power. He noted that some election deniers have been hesitant this year, leaving it unclear how they would act once in office.
Foley also suggested that deniers’ acceptance of their own victories could in some ways boost public confidence in their state’s elections.
“The whole goal is that valid wins are authenticated as valid, and none of these perversions prevail,” he said. “I don’t want to soften this unnecessarily. We are in treacherous waters. It gets harder the more deniers in office. But it is not inevitable that the ship will sink.”
Hundreds of election officials across the country tried to allay suspicions about the security of the election as Tuesday approached — and some of them, including some on the ballot, are continuing that work as the vote began.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) was in a competitive race on Tuesday against election denier Kristina Karamo, who claimed to have witnessed fraud as an observer in Detroit in 2020 without evidence. false claims of irregularities – including claims made by Trump.
“There are always things that can potentially be seized that really don’t affect the election process itself and are minor in any other situation,” Benson said. “I think voters should just see that for what it is — a political strategy that some have chosen to pursue at the expense of who we are as Americans and our democracy.”
Some of the most prominent election deniers on the ballot this year included state-level job seekers who would have broad power to influence the administration and possibly the results of future elections: Kari Lake for the governor of Arizona, Jim Marchant for the secretary of state for Nevada and Matthew DePerno for the Michigan Attorney General.
They have all offered unreserved support for Trump’s false claims of fraud in 2020. DePerno helped Trump nullify the outcome by making baseless claims that Dominion Voting Systems machines in Michigan had flipped votes from Trump to Biden. Lake has said her opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs, should be jailed for confirming Biden’s Arizona victory. Marchant has pledged to decertify Biden’s 2020 Nevada victory and wants to impose hand counts across the state.
There were no winners projected in those races as of 1am Wednesday.
Among the winners projected by that hour was Eric Schmitt, the Republican nominee for the US Senate from Missouri who will replace retiring incumbent Roy Blunt (R). Blunt had voted to certify Biden’s victory, citing court rulings rejecting Trump’s fraud claims.
Another is Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), who shared disproven claims about the 2020 result on talk radio.
“How can Pennsylvania have 200,000 more votes than there were on Election Day? [voters] on the electoral rolls?” she asked.
Some voters said concerns about election integrity were a primary motivator in their selections this year.
Chip Johnson, 65, who cast his vote Tuesday in Madison, Miss., said he believes voter fraud has taken place in the 2020 presidential election. He stopped saying he believes Trump won, but said, “I’m just thinking that there is a lot of unscrupulous voting,” before referring to several issues that have been debunked, including votes of dead people.
“Even if it’s true or not, it lends itself to the suspicion that things aren’t right,” he said. “It’s as if the truth is no longer relevant. It’s like the truth is what I say it is.”
Some of the most prominent election deniers of the year took the win on Tuesday. Among them: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) — two close Trump allies who have repeatedly made false claims about the 2020 outcome.
Those candidates also attacked the work of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack — and have vowed to dismiss the committee’s subpoena for Trump’s testimony if Republicans regain a majority in the chamber.
However, other investigations into Trump’s actions around Jan. 6 will continue, including a criminal investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, stemming from his Jan. 2, 2021 phone call asking Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find enough votes.” to reverse Biden’s victory in the state. The Justice Department is also investigating whether Trump improperly interfered with the 2020 election results.
Sarah Fowler in Madison, Ms.; Tom Burger in Detroit; and Carissa Wolf in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.