Speed Reads


Is election denialism done for?

Election denial was unofficially on the ballot in the 2022 midterms. Most of the 291 Republican candidates running for House, Senate, and key statewide offices had previously "denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election," according to The Washington Post. And many took their cues from former President Donald Trump, parroting his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, and attempting to seed doubt among voters about the legitimacy of the midterms. But in the end, "denier candidates fared especially poorly" in the year's "most competitive races," as well as the statewide contests dictating to how elections are run. "Democracy and reasonableness scored some important victories on Tuesday," the Post editorial board declares. "Americans should be relieved."

Indeed, it's clear "voters care enough about democracy to reject those who would undermine it," says Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. That said, support for election deniers in general was still "shockingly high," says Waldman; for example, more than 170 election-denying Republican candidates had won their midterms contest as of Nov. 17. And, as the Post points out, exit polls suggest one-third of voters still don't trust the outcome of the 2020 election.

Denialism isn't going anywhere, warn Annika Brockschmidt and Thomas Lecaque at The Bulwark. Sure, the drubbing these candidates received in the midterms might hurt their endorsements and funding, but the underlying MAGA ideology — "the Big Lie, some form of Christian nationalism, a disdain for democracy, a belief that 'patriots' can and should intervene in elections when they don't go their way" — is here to stay. That's because the MAGA movement is, for many of its followers, akin to a religion. Such ideologies might wane, but have "never been swayed by defeat at the ballot box," Brockschmidt and Lecaque say. More likely the die-hard MAGA crowd will go into 2024 looking for "revenge and retribution."

These midterm results might actually be a "blessing in disguise" for Republican politicians, writes David Axelrod at CNN. The former Obama administration adviser argues that in rejecting "election denialism, extremism, and coarseness," voters have released the GOP from Trump's "iron grip." Perhaps now congressional Republicans will have a "freer hand" to work with President Biden and the Democrats going forward. "While I'm not betting on it," Axelrod writes, "that would be a blessing for the country."