Election skeptics fall flat in competitive midterm races

Elections 2022

(NewsNation) — Dozens of GOP candidates who cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election results lost their races Tuesday.

Across the board, Republican election skeptics struggled in battleground states. Others won by smaller margins than expected in red territory.

“Americans do not like it when you deny the results of an election — when you are a sore loser, voters don’t care for it,” said NewsNation political editor Chris Stirewalt.

Of the 86 Republican candidates who ran to become their states’ governors, secretaries of state or attorneys general, only 40% directly said President Joe Biden was legitimately elected, a recent analysis by the Associated Press found.

Here’s how some of those candidates fared on Election Day.

governor races

It’s too soon to know whether the new face of election skepticism, Kari Lake, will win in Arizona, but others who repeated former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud had difficulty across the country.

Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cruised to victory over Republican challenger Tudor Dixon with more than 54% of the vote. Dixon, who received Trump’s endorsement, had previously raised her hand during a debate when candidates were asked who among them believed the 2020 election was stolen. 

Democrats also won the attorney general and secretary of state races in Michigan, defeating Trump-backed election skeptics in both contests.

In Wisconsin, incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers held off Republican challenger Tim Michels, who at one point said he was open to exploring how to decertify Biden’s win in the state.

One of the most vocal 2020 election deniers, Republican Doug Mastriano, was soundly defeated in Pennsylvania. He received just 42% of the vote in the Keystone State.

GOP gubernatorial candidates in Kansas, Illinois, New York and Maryland — all of whom supported overturning the 2020 election results or repeated Trump’s false claims — lost their races.

Republicans who acknowledged Biden’s victory fared better, in general. Incumbent governors in Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee won resounding victories.

Georgia’s incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who fought Trump’s election lie, defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams for a second time. It’s worth noting that Abrams cast doubt on the results of the 2018 election, and refused to concede, even after she lost.

Alabama’s incumbent Republican governor and staunch election denier Kay Ivey did win re-election Tuesday. Ivey campaigned on the assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

senate & House races

One of the few victories for Trump-backed Senate candidates in competitive races came in Ohio. Republican J.D. Vance defeated Democrat Tim Ryan, earning more than 53% of the vote.

As recently as March 2022, Vance said the previous election had been stolen from Trump. In a debate, Vance pointed the blame at media companies for allegedly helping Democratic candidates. He cited the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story as one of the reasons Trump didn’t get more votes.

In the New Hampshire Senate race, Republican hopeful Don Bolduc lost to incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan. Throughout his primary, Bolduc had cast doubt on the 2020 election results.

“I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by it,” Bolduc said at a debate over the summer.

After winning the primary, Bolduc changed course and said the election was not stolen. Polling in the lead-up to Election Day showed a tight race, but Bolduc ended up losing by almost 10 points.

The Senate race in Arizona remains too close to call, but Trump-backed GOP candidate Blake Masters currently trails by six points.

In the U.S. House, many Republican incumbents had more success, despite repeating Trump’s false election claims. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida won comfortably, although their seats were never really in doubt.

In more closely contested races, many election skeptics lost. Democrat Hillary Scholten defeated Trump-backed Republican John Gibbs in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.

J.R. Majewski, the GOP candidate in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District who reportedly attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally prior to the Capitol riot, also lost.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, who voted to overturn the 2020 election results, could lose a seat in Colorado that was considered solidly Republican. That race remains too close to call, although Boebert trailed as of Wednesday afternoon.

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