In an alarming gauge of the threat to U.S. democracy posed by the far right, over half of Americans will have a state- or federal-level candidate who denies the results of the 2020 presidential election on the ballot this fall, a new analysis shows.
According to FiveThirtyEight, hundreds of millions of voters will see candidates for the House, Senate, governor, secretary of state and attorney general who erroneously believe Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The publication called every Republican nominee for those races and found that such election deniers will be on the ballot in nearly every state this fall.
Out of 529 nominees that the publication surveyed, 195 “fully denied” the election results, either by saying so or by joining legal attempts to have the election overturned. Sixty-one candidates didn’t explicitly deny the results of the election, but raised questions about widespread election fraud, of which there is zero evidence.
This is far more than the amount of GOP candidates who stand in line with reality and accept the results of the election. FiveThirtyEight found that only 71 candidates have fully accepted the results, while 87 have accepted that Biden won but still raise doubts about the integrity of the election.
In all, 256 candidates surveyed fully or partially deny the election result, while 158 candidates fully or partially accept it, or a difference of about 48 percent to roughly 30 percent, respectively.
Many of these candidates are poised to win, the publication finds, with good chances for 126 deniers or doubters for the House, three for the Senate and at least six gubernatorial candidates.
“[A]n election denier winning [an] election and taking office is more than a symbolic concern,” FiveThirtyEight noted. “An election-denying secretary of state could refuse to certify an election that he or she believes was rigged. An election-denying governor could attempt to submit electoral votes that defy the will of the people. And election-denying senators and representatives could vote to count those electoral votes.”
A Bloomberg analysis posted on Tuesday similarly found that there are about 254 sitting lawmakers or congressional Republican nominees who deny the results of the election. Some of these nominees are set to take office in key battleground states like Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where states’ electoral votes could go a long way in determining the results of future presidential elections.
These candidates’ stances also raise questions about what the results of the midterm elections may look like, as many of them may also deny the results of their own election if they lose the vote.
It is extremely alarming that such a wide swath of the Republican Party has embraced an outright lie about the 2020 election and the legitimacy of elections in the U.S. as a whole just because their preferred candidate lost.
Observers warn that democracy itself is at stake, and voting rights experts say that, though 2020 saw a narrow miss with the GOP’s attempted coup, future presidential elections could see more open and potentially successful coup attempts — ones that were authorized, in part, by voter suppression laws passed by conservatives in dozens of states in reaction to Trump’s revolt against American voters.
Attempts to erode and replace democracy are especially concerning considering the right’s fast decline into fascism. Many indications show that the Republican Party’s most extremist voices — which currently appear to be dictating the direction of the party — are aiming to implement an oppressive regime grounded in violent white supremacist, classist and anti-LGBTQ ideologies.