Two Years After January 6 attack, Our Report Shows Danger to Democracy Still Exists

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Today, as we mark two years since Donald Trump and his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of the 2020 election, RuralOrganizing.Org is releasing an update to our report, “Election Deniers in the 2022 Midterm Elections,” authored by Rural Organizing Executive Director Matt Hildreth, and independent consultant John Ray. We analyzed election deniers’ performance in the 2021-2022 midterm cycle in races up and down the ballot as well as the implications of this performance for future elections.

The report can be viewed here. 

In total, our report includes 779 election deniers, 527 of whom advanced from their primaries into the general election or into a special election that will be tabulated at a later date, 389 of whom ran in contested general elections, and 252 of whom won their elections.

Among the key findings:

  1. Republican election deniers do more than spout conspiracy theories and have already demonstrated a series of policy objectives they are poised to achieve in many states.
  2. Republican election deniers did not only seek high-profile statewide offices that would give them control of the machinery of elections but won seats in state legislatures and Congressional delegations across the country.
  3. Republican election deniers overwhelmingly ran in “safe red” districts, and a majority ran in “red” states, suggesting they have a secure vantage point from which to steer the party in the future.
  4. The scale of the intra-party debate over the election denier movement is overstated.
  5. Democrats have few pickup opportunities in election denier districts barring a significant effort to appeal to rural voters who currently support Republicans. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, executive director of RuralOrganizing.Org and co-author of the report:

The number of seats won by “election deniers” amounts to approximately 10 percent of the federal, statewide, and state legislature elections that Republicans won overall. That is not an insignificant number.

Furthermore, our data suggest the election denier movement is well positioned to exert significant influence over the GOP for the foreseeable future, has already demonstrated a willingness to do so above and beyond public blustering and conspiracy theorizing, and has received material support from the mainstream party apparatus to a degree suggesting any perceived rifts in the party over election integrity are not emerging in the party’s general campaign efforts.

This week, that’s on full display in the U.S. House of Representatives as extremists with little agenda other than chaos derail the process of choosing a Speaker. And even presumptive leadership, including Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, and Jim Jordan, are complicit since all voted to overturn the election results as did six of the first GOP members to nominate McCarthy.

Importantly for rural progressives, many of these election deniers represent rural districts at the state and federal level, which creates an opportunity and a challenge for those of us who are organizing in rural communities.

Fortunately, the Democratically-controlled Congress passed the Electoral Count Reform Act and it was signed into law by President Biden. That will help. But our democracy is still in peril as long as the Republican Party continues to coddle, promote, and engage those who wish to destroy it.

— Matt Hildreth

 The mission of is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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