Updated Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

How election deniers are faring in key midterm races

Data: AP, FiveThirtyEight; Note: Includes candidates who have “raised questions” or “fully denied” the results of the 2020 election; Chart: Thomas Oide, Stef Kight and Andrew Solender/Axios

Republican candidates who have rejected the results of the 2020 presidential election are running in hundreds of midterm races — including dozens of competitive contests — set to be decided on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Many of these positions have substantial power over the administration of elections or the certification of them. If elected, they would have powerful perches from which to disrupt future elections.

By the numbers: Axios' graphic shows 50 GOP nominees for Congress, governor and secretary of state are running in races Cook Political Report rates as competitive and have either denied or raised doubts about the results of the 2020 election, according to FiveThirtyEight's tracker.

  • Nine of these candidates are running for governor, five for secretary of state, five for Senate and 31 for House.
  • Axios focused on the competitive races because — compared with deep-red districts — they are the races most in suspense, and in which swing voters had the biggest say in how to weigh impacts on the future of democracy against other priorities such as gas prices or crime.
  • These are a fraction of the 260 GOP nominees up and down the ballot that the tracker found had questioned the 2020 election.

Between the lines: There is considerable overlap with this list of candidates and those former President Trump endorsed in their primaries.

  • Trump has made candidates' denials of the 2020 results a key factor in his endorsements, even chastising one Senate candidate for not denying the results as frequently as his gubernatorial counterpart.

What we’re watching: Races for secretaries of state are more high-profile than ever, while races for governor have taken on a new significance.

  • Secretaries of state are, in many cases, a state’s top election official, while governors have a role in the constitutionally mandated process for certifying presidential elections.
  • Many fervent election deniers are running for secretary of state in key swing states: Mark Finchem in Arizona, Jim Marchant in Nevada and Kim Crockett in Minnesota. All three are Republicans.
  • There are also swing-state gubernatorial candidates who have made election denialism the core of their campaign, including Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.

The big picture: While dozens of these candidates are running in competitive elections, hundreds more Republicans who have thrown doubt on the 2020 results are running for safe seats and are all but guaranteed to win.

  • That includes many House and Senate incumbents who voted to decertify Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electors after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Editor's note: This piece has been updated with more information on how we define election deniers and selected races for the chart.

Go deeper