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Nearly 300 Republican Midterm Candidates Embrace Trump’s Big Lie, Analysis Finds

The sheer number of candidates who doubt the election is a dire show of the Republican Party’s embrace of fascism.

Republican candidate for Attorney General Matthew DePerno claps during former President Donald Trump's remarks during a Save America rally on October 1, 2022, in Warren, Michigan.

A majority of Republican midterm candidates running for major state or federal office don’t fully accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, a new analysis finds.

According to The Washington Post, 299 candidates running for House, Senate, or key state offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state or attorney general have either denied or publicly questioned the results of the election that unequivocally saw Joe Biden elected as president. This represents a majority of all candidates running for such positions, all of which oversee some portion of election administration.

Such candidates are on the ballot in almost every state in the country. All but two states, Rhode Island and North Dakota, have candidates who fully or partially deny the election result. In four states, Republican voters have nominated an election denier for every race examined by the publication.

The majority — 174 — of these candidates are running in safe elections, while 51 are running in tight races. This means that it’s possible they view election denial as a strategy that could win them votes — or, potentially, that they’re planning to deny the results of their own elections if voters reject them.

When surveyed for a separate Washington Post analysis last month, 12 of 19 Republican candidates in close gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races refused to say if they would accept the outcome of their election. All 19 Democrats running against them, on the other hand, said they would accept the results whether or not they won.

The report lines up with an ongoing analysis by FiveThirtyEight, which finds that there are 263 GOP candidates for the same offices, excluding the lieutenant governor, who either fully or partially deny the election result. This means that election deniers or doubters are on the ballot for 60 percent of Americans this fall, according to the analysis.

FiveThirtyEight also found that election deniers and doubters outnumber the candidates who don’t lie about the result of the election; there are 256 candidates who refuse to accept the result and only 158 who do.

That election deniers make up such a large proportion of the Republican Party and its candidates is an alarming show of the right’s open embrace of fascism and anti-democratic principles, experts say.

“Election denialism is a form of corruption,” Ruth Ben-Ghiat, New York University historian and fascism expert, told The Washington Post. “The party has now institutionalized this form of lying, this form of rejection of results. So it’s institutionalized illegal activity. These politicians are essentially conspiring to make party dogma the idea that it’s possible to reject certified results.”

If these election deniers take office, it could have dire consequences.

Electing such people into office could accelerate the U.S.’s path into fascism, putting the power of election administration into the hands of people who may use it to install whichever political leaders they prefer; an election-denying secretary of state, for instance, could refuse to certify election results they don’t favor. An influx of election deniers in Congress, meanwhile, means that there could be more lawmakers who vote to overturn the result of the 2024 presidential election if Donald Trump or another far right Republican doesn’t win.