These 'Stop the Steal' election deniers are polling well in key races — and threatening US democracy: conservative

These 'Stop the Steal' election deniers are polling well in key races — and threatening US democracy: conservative
Kari Lake speaking in Scottsdale, Arizona in August 2021 (Gage Skidmore)

The term “voter suppression” is typically used to describe the many ways in which Republican-sponsored laws are trying to make voting more difficult and less convenient, from limiting voting by mail to reducing the number of ballot drop box locations to cutting back on early voting. But many critics of the MAGA movement, from liberals and progressives to right-wing Never Trump conservatives, have been arguing that the MAGA far right is attempting something that is much more sinister than simply making voting harder — they are trying to seize control of the administration of elections and put themselves in a position to simply throw out any election results that they don’t like.

Many critics of former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement fear a coup scenario in which a Democratic presidential nominee could win the popular vote in several battleground states — perhaps Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona — only to see Republicans in state governments give the states’ electoral votes to the Republican who lost. In all of those states, far-right MAGA candidates and election deniers who promoted the Big Lie and falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump are campaigning on a “Stop the Steal” platform.

In an article published by The Bulwark on October 21, Never Trump conservative William Saletan takes a look at how well “Stop the Steal” candidates are performing in swing states — including GOP gubernatorial nominees like Kari Lake in Arizona, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Tudor Dixon in Michigan — and what it could mean for the wellbeing of U.S. democracy if they are victorious.

READ MORE: 'Scary stuff': GOP election deniers surge to victory in 2024 battlegrounds

“In several crucial states,” Saletan warns, “candidates who have claimed or suggested that the 2020 election was stolen are close to becoming governors. In Arizona, Republican Kari Lake is narrowly leading Democrat Katie Hobbs. In Wisconsin, Republican Tim Michels is within half a percentage point of Gov. Tony Evers. And in Michigan, the last four polls put challenger Tudor Dixon within six points of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. If these candidates were to win on November 8, they’d control the certification of 36 pivotal Electoral College votes in 2024.”

Saletan continues, “If they were to be joined by Doug Mastriano, who trails in Pennsylvania but is polling above 40 percent, they’d control 55 electoral votes. Together, they could deliver the 2024 presidential election to Donald Trump, who is polling neck and neck in a hypothetical rematch with Joe Biden. How is this happening? What the hell is going on?”

The “good news,” according to Saletan, is that “most voters in these states don’t think the 2020 election was stolen.” The “bad news,” according to the Never Trumper, is that “many people who don’t think the election was stolen are supporting candidates who claim or imply that it was.” There are too many voters in swing states, Saletan warns, who don’t buy into the Big Lie but are willing to vote for MAGA candidates who do if they agree with them on other issues.

“Democrats have little more than two weeks to stop Lake from becoming Arizona’s next governor,” Saletan observes. “They’re also in trouble down the ballot and in races against election deniers in other states. They need to make election denial a more salient issue. But maybe they should focus that conversation on the next election, not the last one.”

READ MORE: 'Disappointed': Jake Tapper grills GOP Virginia governor over support of election denier Kari Lake

Meanwhile, in an article published by The Guardian on October 21, journalist Peter Stone warns that “Donald Trump’s election denier trifecta” is “on this year’s ballot.”

The “trifecta” that Stone is referring to is Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona. In his article, Stone examines efforts by “Stop the Steal” candidates to seize control of the administration of elections in those states — efforts that, Stone fears, could lead to a possible coup attempt in 2024.

“In Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden beat then-President Trump in 2020, several Republican candidates who have loudly echoed Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen are trying to win jobs as secretary of state, attorney general or governor in November,” Stone explains. “The distinct prospect of some winning top state posts has triggered alarms from election watchdogs, Democrats and some GOP officials, who also worry about what could happen during the 2024 presidential election — especially if Trump is the nominee.”

Stone elaborates, “Prominent election deniers Kari Lake, a former Fox News anchor, and Mark Finchem, a state legislator, are vying to become Arizona’s next governor and secretary of state, respectively. Lesser known is Abraham Hamadeh, the GOP candidate for attorney general, who reportedly boasted about committing voter fraud in 2008. Michigan’s conspiracy-pushing candidates include the far-right lawyer Matthew DePerno for attorney general, and part-time community college instructor Kristina Karamo for secretary of state. Trump-backed Tudor Dixon is vying for the governor’s seat. And in Pennsylvania, State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was a key Trump ally scheming to block Biden’s win, hopes to become governor — an office that, unlike certain states, has special power to name the secretary of state.”

Stone points out that “if Karamo, Finchem or Mastriano” is victorious, he or she would have “crucial roles overseeing election procedures for a state that could be pivotal in determining the outcome of the next presidential contest.”

Ian Vandewalker of the Brennan Center for Justice told The Guardian, “Americans need to understand how the legitimacy of a previous election — and in some ways, the entire electoral process — has, for the first time in modern history, been questioned by candidates for the very positions that will run the next elections.”

READ MORE: Election deniers and defenders poised for next voting war battle

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