US midterm voters reject election deniers who support Trump’s false claim

Several avid participants in efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 presidential contest fell short in the midterm elections

Voters have rejected some of the most visceral election deniers in the US, rejecting Republican supporters of Donald Trump’s stolen election lie in several key races though some critical results have yet to be called.

Democracy was on the ballot in the midterm elections, with avid participants in efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 presidential contest vying to gain control of how votes are conducted in their states. Several of those candidates fell short on the night.

In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, was convincingly defeated by his Democratic rival Josh Shapiro. Mastriano acted as Trump’s front person in the state in attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential result and was present at the US Capitol on the day of the January 6 insurrection.

Pennsylvania’s governor has considerable powers over elections as they choose who will be the secretary of state – the top voting official.

Several other races for secretary of state were among the most closely watched this cycle, given the prospect of anti-democratic candidates seizing control over voting procedures. That scenario has prompted jitters ahead of the 2024 presidential race in which Trump has indicated he wants to stand again.

In Michigan, all three Democrats running for statewide office beat Republicans who questioned the 2020 election results.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer was re-elected to a second term over Tudor Dixon, who declined to say Joe Biden won the state in 2020. Michigan’s attorney general, Dana Nessel, also won re-election, defeating Matthew DePerno, a lawyer who became a key player in spreading election misinformation after the 2020 election. In an election night speech, Whitmer said the results affirmed “facts over lies and democracy over fascism”.

Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s current secretary of state who staunchly defended the 2020 election results, defeated Kristina Karamo, who rose to national prominence after she spread false claims about fraud in the Detroit count.

Donald Trump, left, listens as Michigan Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo speaks during a rally in Warren, Michigan on 1 October 2022.
Donald Trump, left, listens as Michigan Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo speaks during a rally in Warren, Michigan, in October. Photograph: Todd McInturf/AP

“Well, well, well, democracy has prevailed,” Benson said as she took the stage at a Democratic victory party in downtown Detroit in the early hours of Wednesday. “Today Michigan voters showed the world that they will vote for truth over lies, facts over conspiracy theories, real results over empty promises.”

Election deniers also lost races to be the top election official in New Mexico and Minnesota.

The initial flurry of results will be met with relief from pro-democracy groups and election experts with some of the most potentially dystopian outcomes being averted. However, several races that have attracted much concern have yet to be finalized.

Arizona has become the ground zero of election denial in the US since the eruption of toxic tussles over its 2020 count, and Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker, has become a national embodiment of the threat.

Mark Finchem delivers a speech during a rally for Republican candidate for governor of Arizona Kari Lake in Glendale, Arizona.
Mark Finchem delivers a speech during a rally for Republican candidate for governor of Arizona Kari Lake in Glendale, Arizona. Photograph: Étienne Laurent/EPA

On Wednesday morning Finchem’s battle to become Arizona’s secretary of state remained too close to call. With 62% of the vote counted, he was on 47% to his Democratic rival Adrian Fontes’s 53%.

Finchem spearheaded attempts to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 and was at the US Capitol behind the barricades on January 6.

Kari Lake, a former Phoenix area Fox TV anchor and another acerbic election denier, remained neck-and-neck with her Democratic rival Katie Hobbs in Arizona’s gubernatorial race. Lake is among several Republican candidates who have hinted that they might not accept the results of their elections should they lose.

In an echo of the volatile events of 2020, the outcome of Arizona’s statewide contests may depend on legal challenges in Maricopa county, the most populous part of the state. Equipment problems were reported with vote counting machines and the Republican National Committee has launched a lawsuit which Lake and the Republican candidate for US Senate Blake Masters have joined.

Another prominent election denier, Jim Marchant, is bidding for the secretary of state position in Nevada. Marchant, who has close ties to influential figures in the racist conspiracy theory QAnon, was tied with his Democratic rival Cisco Aguilar with 72% of the count done.

There were further signs of voters growing alert to the Trump-inspired threat to democracy in other polls held on Tuesday. In a ballot measure, Michigan voters decided to bake into the state constitution an amendment that significantly expands voting access and makes it harder for partisan actors to overturn elections.

It marked the first time the ballot initiative process had been used to explicitly counter attempts to overturn elections.

But the longtime consequences of Trump’s willingness to subvert the legitimate results of an election for personal political gain remain a danger. A survey by the New York Times found that by Wednesday morning some 210 Republicans who actively questioned the 2020 election result had won congressional or state races.


Ed Pilkington in New York and Sam Levine in Detroit

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The key candidates who threaten democracy in the 2022 US midterms
In several states, Republican candidates who dispute the 2020 election results are running for positions that would give them control over elections

Sam Levine in New York and Rachel Leingang in Arizona

15, Nov, 2022 @2:45 PM

Article image
Trump fake elector scheme: where do seven states’ investigations stand?
Several states are investigating the scheme created by Trump allies to cast fake electoral votes in 2020 election

Rachel Leingang

22, Oct, 2023 @12:00 PM

Article image
The ‘election-denier trifecta’: alarm over Trumpists’ efforts to win key posts
Republican contenders for secretary of state, attorney general and governor have loudly echoed Trump’s false claims of election fraud

Peter Stone in Washington

21, Oct, 2022 @10:00 AM

Article image
Biden faces calls not to seek re-election as shock poll rattles senior Democrats
New York Times/Siena College survey shows president trailing 44% to 48% in five of six key states he won in 2020

David Smith in Washington

06, Nov, 2023 @6:09 PM

Article image
US corporations gave more than $8m to election deniers’ midterm campaigns
Giant companies such as the AT&T, Home Depot and Boeing contributed to candidates who falsely claimed that Trump won in 2020

Ed Pilkington

23, Nov, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
‘I see things now that I’ve never seen before’: the Maricopa county attorney fighting false election claims
Tom Liddy, a lifelong Republican, is a target of his own party for fending off lawsuits against the county over blatant election lies

Rachel Leingang

19, Jan, 2023 @11:00 AM

Article image
Arizona governor candidate refuses to say if she will accept midterms result
Kari Lake, who has echoed Trump’s claims the 2020 election was stolen, refuses three times to answer when pressed on CNN

Sam Levine in New York

17, Oct, 2022 @12:49 PM

Article image
The election-denying Republicans who aided Trump’s ‘big lie’ and got promoted
In 2022, many Republicans who embraced election denialism were re-elected and, in some cases, elevated to higher office

Alice Herman, Carlisa N. Johnson, Rachel Leingang, Kira Lerner, Sam Levine and Ed Pilkington

09, Mar, 2023 @11:00 AM

Article image
Trump's longshot election lawsuits: where do things stand?
The president and other Republicans have filed a series of lawsuits in different states that several judges have already dismissed

Sam Levine in New York

10, Nov, 2020 @4:42 PM

Article image
Why the Democrats’ biggest wins of the midterms weren’t in Washington DC
Breaking Republican strangleholds over state capitols gives Democrats an advantage in the fight for voting, abortion and LGBTQ+ rights

Sam Levine in New York

18, Nov, 2022 @5:46 PM