NEW REPORT AND POLLING: States United Action Releases Final Replacing the Refs Report, New Survey on Voters’ Rejection of Election Denier Candidates

Replacing the Refs Final Report and New Polling Find that Election Denial Movement is Unpopular With Voters

12.07.2022

Washington, D.C. Today, States United Action released its final Replacing the Refs report of the year. The report tracks the trend of Election Denier candidates who ran in 2022 for key statewide offices that run, oversee, and protect our elections. States United Action found that American voters decisively rejected Election Denier candidates and the election denialism movement. 

Of at least 141 Election Deniers who ran in the primaries or general election for statewide office, just 15 won seats. That means Election Deniers vying for election oversight power had a loss rate of around 90 percent in 2022. Election Deniers who gained new ground were even rarer. Just five non-incumbent Election Deniers won races for governor, attorney general and secretary of state, out of a total of 94 races for these positions. Only one race remains uncalled—the Arizona attorney general race, which is in an automatic recount under state law with the Election Denier trailing by around 500 votes.

Additionally, States United Action released new results from surveys looking into Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin voters’ concerns about Election Deniers, and the types of voters who rejected election denialism at the polls. Of the registered voters surveyed in the months before the election, a plurality (43%) indicated that they would be less likely to vote for an Election Denier. 

“The election results and our polling make it clear—Americans do not trust Election Deniers with our votes,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action. “When a lot of people work together to defend our democracy, it can and will withstand attacks. But losing didn’t stop these Election Deniers—some have refused to concede, filed frivolous lawsuits, started campaigning to oversee their state parties, and we’re already starting to see new state legislation that would interfere with election administration. Now the work begins to safeguard our future elections.” 

As of 8 a.m. ET on December 7, 2022, Replacing the Refs finds that: 

  • In total, only 15 Election Deniers won statewide races during the 2022 election cycle, with the majority of them holding onto seats they already had. 
  • The Election Denier loss rate was 90 percent for races that have election oversight power. 
  • In 2022, 36 states had contests for governor. As of December 7, just six Election Deniers won their races for governor out of the 22 that were on the ballot in November.
  • In 2022, 30 states and the District of Columbia had contests for attorney general. As of December 7, six Election Deniers won their races for attorney general out of the 11 Election Deniers who were on the ballot in November. Ten of the 11 Election Denier candidates ran on a major party’s ticket. 
  • In 2022, 27 states had contests for secretary of state. As of December 7, just three Election Deniers won their races for secretary of state out of the 13 that were on the ballot in November. Eleven of the 13 Election Denier candidates ran on a major party’s ticket. 

“Full stop, the Election Denier movement is unpopular with voters,” said Thania Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Research and Policy Development at States United Action. “Our polling alone shows that voters viewed candidates negatively for participating in the January 6 attack, encouraging others to threaten officials, or spreading lies and conspiracy theories about our election system. These results distinctly explain the midterm election results and prove that voters understand that election denialism isn’t just bad politics—it completely undermines the values of our country and democracy.” 

Highlights from the polling survey include:

  • A plurality of voters (43%) across Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin said they would be less likely to vote for an Election Denier. 
  • Voters with no attachment to either of the two parties, who often swing elections, don’t like election denialism and rejected it at high rates. 
    • 34% of Independents said they would be less likely to vote for an Election Denier, compared with only 12% who would be more likely. 
    • The most common response from voters who sat out the 2016 election but voted in 2020 and voters who switched the party they supported between 2016 and 2020 was that they would be less likely to support an Election Denier. 
  • The top 3 most concerning behaviors of Election Denier candidates for voters who rejected election denialism include:
    • Participation in the January 6 attack;
    • If a candidate encouraged others to threaten election officials;
    • If a candidate spread lies and conspiracy theories about our election system.

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About States United Action

States United Action is a nonpartisan section 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization with a mission to protect our elections and our democracy. States United Action advocates for policies that protect election integrity, hold democracy violators accountable, and prevent political violence that threatens to undermine the will of the American people, and amplifies the voices of state leaders and law enforcement leaders who share these values.