Election skeptics on the ballot in 2022 midterms

Elections 2022

(NewsNation) — Questions around election integrity and unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud continue to be a point of concern for candidates and voters alike with the midterms less than one week away.

Nearly one in three GOP candidates for statewide offices that play a role in overseeing, certifying or defending elections supported overturning the results of the 2020 presidential race, according to a recent analysis by the Associated Press.

Of the 86 Republican candidates running to become their state’s governor, secretary of state or attorney general, only 40% would directly say President Joe Biden was legitimately elected, AP found.

In Michigan, the GOP candidates for all three positions have repeated Trump’s election claims.

In Wisconsin, Trump-backed businessman Tim Michels — who has claimed the 2020 election was rigged — said decertifying the results of the 2020 contest was not a priority but said “everything will be on the table.” He’s in favor of dismantling the bipartisan commission that runs Wisconsin elections.

Recently, Michels said he will accept the outcome of the November election.

The Republican guberantorial hopeful in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, attended the Jan. 6 rally near the White House shortly before the riot and arranged for buses to bring others from his state who wanted to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

Dan Cox, the GOP candidate in Maryland, has repeatedly made baseless claims that there was widespread voter fraud in his state.

But perhaps the most recognizable figure who continues to cast doubt on Biden’s victory is Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. The longtime Phoenix TV anchor has made election fraud a central part of her campaign, despite no evidence that widespread fraud occurred.

An Associated Press investigation of the 2020 presidential election found fewer than 475 potential cases of voter fraud out of 25.5 million ballots cast in the six states where Trump and his allies disputed his loss.

When asked whether she will accept the outcome of the upcoming midterms Lake has been evasive.

“I’m going to win the election and I will accept that result,” Lake told CNN in September.

Lake — whose telegenic, combative style has made her a rising star in the GOP — pushed back against the assertion that Republicans are the party of election denial. She pointed to Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, who refused to concede her 2018 race against now-Gov. Brian Kemp.

According to a NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released this week, most Americans (nearly 80%) said they have a “fair amount” or “great deal” of trust in the accuracy of the upcoming election results.

Those who were skeptical were far more likely to identify as Republican, the poll found. About one in four GOP respondents said they don’t have very much trust — or have no trust at all — in the accuracy of the 2022 midterm results.

Republicans were particularly concerned about mail-in voting — more than 40% of those polled said the ballot return method is “not very secure” or “not secure at all.”

That distrust has elevated fears that GOP candidates may be unwilling to concede lost races. Now, Democrats are campaigning on those anxieties, portraying the upcoming midterms as a battle for democracy itself.

In his closing argument before the American people Wednesday, President Biden implored voters to “preserve democracy” and blamed former President Donald Trump for fueling the “the dangerous rise of political violence.”

Biden called on voters to reject candidates who have denied the results of the previous election — which even Trump’s administration declared to be free of any widespread fraud or interference.

Some political commentators have questioned the sincerity of the Democrats’ pro-Democracy rhetoric, pointing to the tens of millions of dollars Democratic-aligned groups spent boosting MAGA Republicans during the primaries. Many of those same candidates, including Kari Lake, now have a chance to win the general election.

It remains to be seen whether Biden’s appeal will resonate at the ballot box.

Republicans currently have a 54% chance of controlling the Senate and an 80% chance of controlling the House, according to Decision Desk HQ’s forecast model.

Inflation continues to be the No. 1 issue driving voters’ decisions at the polls, the NewsNation poll found.

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