The margins of loss in some cases were significant, making it harder to launch a 2020 redux, when baseless lawsuits flooded swing state courts. And not all Holocaust deniers lost. Indeed, many candidates for House seats have won their contests and will serve in the next Congress.
But the larger trend underscores that Trump himself was likely the key ingredient in spreading and amplifying the lies about the electoral system and demanding legal challenges to overturn the results.
“Some of the election-denying rhetoric turned out to be bluster to please the Trumpian base of the Republican Party,” said Rick Hasen, professor and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA School of Law. “Even if some of these Holocaust deniers wanted to challenge the election results, they don’t get the same attention as Trump, and things could have gone wrong.”
Hasen added a caveat, though: “That’s not to say the movement wouldn’t be more successful if Trump were on the ballot in 2024.”
One of the most notable examples is Matthew DePerno, who was running to become Michigan’s top law enforcement official. Trump had shown an inordinate interest in DePerno’s run for attorney general and even held a fundraiser for him at his resort town of Mar-a-Lago.
DePerno, who is still under investigation for allegedly tampering with voting machines, conceded to current attorney general Dana Nessel after losing nearly 9 percentage points.
Trump-backed Tudor Dixon, who was in contention for Michigan governor and had previously refused to commit to accepting the results of his run, also conceded defeat. So did Tim Michels, the Wisconsin denier who claimed Republicans “would never lose another election” if elected governor.
On Sunday, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who has championed efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, also conceded.
Other losing Republicans who spread conspiracies about the 2020 election, including Nevada Secretary of State nominee Jim Marchant, have yet to admit their losses. But they did not claim that fraud or misconduct was responsible for their losses.
GOP candidates who have challenged their losses have done so in largely opaque terms, suggesting that more votes may still be in the way rather than suggesting that fraud is afoot.
GOP candidate for Michigan Secretary of State Kristina Karamo, who claims she witnessed fraud in the 2020 election and lost 14 points to incumbent Jocelyn Benson, recently told her supporters “there has more to come”. In Washington, Republican Joe Kent suggested healing the ballots could help him to close the gap after his upset election defeat was announced last night. And in Arizona, losing the candidate for Secretary of State Mark Finchem took to Twitter Saturday to call it “#FakeNews lies” that GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters lost to Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly.
“We are still counting hundreds of thousands of votes,” he said. Arizona’s voting charts are still ongoing, but Finchem and Masters are trailing significantly with little to count and several major news outlets have declared Kelly the winner.
“I remain concerned about the weeks ahead as the final results are known in Arizona, Nevada and elsewhere, and we learn who controls Congress,” Becker said. “We will have to be vigilant of Holocaust deniers cornered around the corner,” he said.
While the candidates themselves stayed away from conspiracies around their losses, Trump did not. In a Nov. 10 post on his Truth Social site, he said election officials in Nevada, where a count is also still ongoing, and Arizona “want more time to cheat.”
In the Nevada Senate race, Republican Adam Laxalt tweeted that gave Trump’s baseless claim no oxygen as his lead over Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto evaporated Saturday night. He explained that she could “overtake us” and thanked her supporters for their prayers. Moments later, Cortez Masto was declared the winner, ensuring Democrats would retain control of the Senate. Laxalt was Trump’s campaign state co-chair and filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results there.
David Levine, member of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, in charge of electoral integrity, said: “After what happened in 2020, I had a perspective ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst. “.” Levine, a former chief electoral officer for Ada County, Idaho, said he “worried that some are trying to succeed in 2022 where former President Trump failed.”
Although Levine and others feel relieved so far that there have been no major election conspiracies in this post-vote cycle, they warn that not all is settled.
That’s especially true in Arizona, where there are hundreds of thousands of ballots voters returned to secure metal drop boxes on or just before Election Day that are still being counted. While Finchem and Masters lost by margins large enough to declare winners, the race for governor is much closer.
The epicenter of the tally is Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, where a slew of same-day ballots has election officials working around the clock to manually verify signatures. They do so against a storm of misinformation from Trump supporters suggesting that the Democrats are rigging the election against Republican Kari Lake. Lake is running against Katie Hobbs, who is the state’s current secretary of state.
On Friday, the Republican National Committee said there was ‘Deep flaws’ in county election administration, even though Maricopa’s election supervisor, Bill Gates, is a Republican, and his longer ballot verification process was instituted by the GOP-led legislature. Saturday, protesters gathered outside the Maricopa Elections office with signs reading ‘Lake won’ and ‘Hobbs is a cheater’.
The conspiratorial fervor reached such a level on Saturday that Gates’ office released a series of tweets dealing with “super spreaders of disinformation” and “social media bots”. It read, “Please read Arizona’s election law and election procedures manual before asking leading questions about how suspicious something looks.”
Extremism researchers have previously said election-related political violence is more likely to occur in states like Arizona with controversial races.
In 2020, during the pandemic, ballots that were returned on Election Day to drop boxes tilted towards the GOP and Trump, while in the last midterm elections in 2018 they helped Democrat Kyrsten Sinema to overturn a Senate seat in blue. Even so, Lake repeatedly took to Twitter and Fox News to insist that those ballots in circulation are “hardcore Republican voters.”
“I’m relieved my greatest fears haven’t come true thus far,” Levine said, “but we can’t let our guard down until the midterm reviews are complete and the results are in. are not certified.”
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