Reports December 7, 2022

Replacing the Refs

In 2022, politicians who spread lies and conspiracy theories about our elections sought the power to oversee our elections, enabling them to interfere with nonpartisan election administration and put our free, fair, and secure elections at risk. We tracked their performance in statewide races.
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Last updated: December 7, 2022

TRACKING THE TREND OF ELECTION DENIERS RUNNING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE IN 2022

A project of States United Action

The 2022 midterm elections were defined by a dangerous trend. In states across the country, Election Deniers entered races for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. These candidates campaigned on lies about the 2020 election and asked Americans to trust them with power over future elections. 

When the voters had their say, they spoke loud and clear. They believe in our elections, they’re tired of conspiracy theories, and they’ll step up to defend the freedom to vote. In most places, Election Deniers were rejected decisively. (In battleground states, it was a clean sweep: They lost every race for statewide jobs that oversee voting.) 

Elections are national events, but they’re run by the states. That means the state officials who oversee elections—governors, secretaries of state, and attorneys general—are on the front lines of our democracy. In all, 141 Election Deniers entered races for these three positions in 2022. Many were defeated in the primaries, often by Republican incumbents who refused to endorse the Big Lie. But dozens advanced to the general election. When Americans finally went to the polls, more than half the country had an Election Denier on the ballot. 

The Midterm Landscape

The voters chose democracy. As of December 7, out of 94 races this year for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, only five non-incumbent Election Deniers emerged as winners. In total, 15 Election Deniers won statewide races in 2022 – the majority holding onto seats they already held. All of the winners were in states that voted for former President Trump in both 2016 and 2020. (One race, the contest for Arizona attorney general, has not been called by news organizations and has proceeded to an automatic recount under state law; unofficial results show the Election Denier trailing.) 

As a result, Election Deniers gained almost no new ground for their movement. The Election Denier loss rate was around 90% for races that have election oversight power – showing that voters held them accountable for two years of lies designed to erode the freedom to vote.  

But we must not lose sight of ongoing threats to our elections.  

Predictably, even clear losses in the midterms didn’t stop Election Deniers from promoting toxic conspiracy theories and working to undermine trust in our free, fair, and accurate elections. Some Election Deniers who are well outside the recount margin have yet to concede their races, showing they aren’t interested in meeting even the lowest bar for what’s healthy for our democracy. Some have filed or threatened to file frivolous lawsuits and encouraged their state officials to ignore the law and refuse to certify the election. Some have responded to their defeats by seeking control over their state parties. 

Threats also persist beyond the ballot box. In state legislatures, partisan politicians are trying to rewrite the rules of elections to lock in the results they want. Since the 2020 election, more than 200 bills have been introduced in 33 states that would interfere with nonpartisan election administration. Dozens have been adopted, and more are on the way. At the same time, the Supreme Court is considering a case that could fundamentally change elections. Election administrators and election workers still face unacceptable harassment and outright threats. 

And Election Deniers will have power in the states where they did win. The 15 Election Deniers that won statewide races oversee elections for almost a third of the U.S. population. Scores of others won races for Congress and in state legislatures. And where Election Deniers hold office and try to ignore the will of the people and break the law, we must hold them accountable—shining a light on what they say and do, calling them out, and taking them to court. 

The midterm elections proved that the election denial movement is deeply unpopular. But it hasn’t been extinguished. So we must remain vigilant. Democracy prevailed in 2022, but the fight goes on. 

  • Alabama

    In the Alabama primary, five Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and three moved on to the general. In the Alabama general election, three Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state, and all three won. Alabama was one of three states where an Election Denier ran for all three positions with election oversight.

    2022 Midterm Results 

    Governor

    • Kay Ivey (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Attorney General 

    • Steve Marshall (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Secretary of State

    • Wes Allen (R) – Election Denier

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Alabama has had four bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.


  • Alaska

    In the Alaska primary, three Election Deniers ran for governor and two moved on to the general. In the Alaska general election, two Election Deniers ran for governor, and one won.

    2022 Midterm Results 

    Governor

    • Mike Dunleavy (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Attorney General

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Alaska has had six bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Arizona

    In the Arizona primary, nine Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and three moved on to the general. In the Arizona general election, three Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state, and none won. Arizona is one of three states where an Election Denier ran for all three positions with election oversight.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Katie Hobbs (D)

    Attorney General

    • Kris Mayes (D)

    Secretary of State

    • Adrian Fontes (D)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the Arizona state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Arizona has had 35 bills introduced, and three already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Arkansas

    In the Arkansas primary, no Election Deniers ran for governor. In the Arkansas general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R)

    Attorney General

    • Tim Griffin (R)

    Secretary of State

    • John Thurston (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

     

  • California

    In the California primary, seven Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the California general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Gavin Newson (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Ron Bonta (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Shirley Weber (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

     

  • Colorado

    In the Colorado primary, four Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the Colorado general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Jared Polis (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Phil Weiser (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Jena Griswold (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Colorado has had one bill introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Connecticut

    In the Connecticut primary, one Election Denier ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Connecticut general election, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Ned Lamont (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • William Tong (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Stephanie Thomas (D)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • District of Columbia

    In the District of Columbia primary, no Election Deniers ran for attorney general. In the District of Columbia general election, no Election Deniers ran for attorney general.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Attorney General

    • Brian Schwalb (D)
  • Delaware

    In the Delaware primary, no Election Deniers ran for attorney general. In the Delaware general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor 

    • No Race in 2022

    Attorney General

    • Kathy Jennings (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Florida

    In the Florida primary, three Election Deniers ran for governor or attorney general and two moved on to the general. In the Florida general election, two Election Deniers ran for governor and attorney general and both won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Ron DeSantis (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Attorney General

    • Ashley Moody (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Secretary of State 

    • No Race in 2022; Governor DeSantis appointed Cord Byrd

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Florida has had three bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Georgia

    In the Georgia primary, six Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the Georgia general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Brian Kemp (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Chris Carr (R) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Brad Raffensperger (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the Georgia state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Georgia has had five bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Hawaii

    In the Hawaii primary, no Election Deniers ran for governor and none moved on to the general. In the Hawaii general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Josh Green (D)

    Attorney General

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State 

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

     

  • Idaho

    In the Idaho primary, six Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Idaho general election, one Election Denier ran for attorney general and won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Brad Little (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Raul Labrador (R) – Election Denier

    Secretary of State

    • Phil McGrane (R)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Illinois

    In the Illinois primary, seven Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the Illinois general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • J.B. Pritzker (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Kwame Raoul (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Alexi Giannoulias (D)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the Illinois state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Illinois has had three bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Indiana

    In the Indiana primary, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Indiana general election, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and won.

     2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor 

    • No Race in 2022  

    Attorney General 

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • Diego Morales (R) – Election Denier 

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Indiana has had four bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Iowa

    In the Iowa primary, one Election Denier ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Iowa primary, one Election Denier ran for governor and won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Kim Reynolds (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Attorney General

    • Brenna Bird (R)

    Secretary of State

    • Paul Pate (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the Iowa state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Iowa has had three bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Kansas

    In the Kansas primary, four Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and two moved on to the general. In the Kansas general election, two Election Deniers ran for governor or attorney general, and one won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Laura Kelly (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Kris Kobach (R) – Election Denier

    Secretary of State

    • Scott Schwab (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Kansas has had eight bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Maine

    In the Maine primary, one Election Denier ran for governor and one moved on to the general. In the Maine general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Janet Mills (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Maryland

    In the Maryland primary, two Election Deniers ran for governor or attorney general and two moved on to the general. In the Maryland general election, two Election Deniers running for governor and attorney general and both lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Wes Moore (D)

    Attorney General

    • Anthony Brown (D)

    Secretary of State 

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Massachusetts

    In the Massachusetts primary, two Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and two moved on to the general. In the Massachusetts general election, two Election Deniers running for governor or secretary of state, and both lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Maura Healey (D)

    Attorney General

    • Andrea Campbell (D)

    Secretary of State

    • William Galvin (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Michigan

    In the Michigan primary, ten Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and five moved on to the general. In the Michigan general, five Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state, and all lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Gretchen Whitmer (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Dana Nessel (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Jocelyn Benson (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Michigan has had 12 bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Minnesota

    In the Minnesota primary, six Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Minnesota primary, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Tim Walz (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Keith Ellison (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Steve Simon (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Minnesota has had 12 bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Nebraska

    In the Nebraska primary, three Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the Nebraska general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Jim Pillen (R)

    Attorney General

    • Mike Hilgers (R)

    Secretary of State

    • Bob Evnen (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the Nebraska state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Nebraska has had two bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Nevada

    In the Nevada primary, seven Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and two moved on to the general. In the Nevada general election, two Election Deniers ran for secretary of state and attorney general, and both lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Joe Lombardo (R)

    Attorney General

    • Aaron Ford (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Francisco ‘Cisco’ Aguilar (D)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • New Hampshire

    In the New Hampshire primary, one Election Denier ran for governor and none moved on to the general. In the New Hampshire general election, one Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Chris Sununu (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General 

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. New Hampshire has had eight bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • New Mexico

    In the New Mexico primary, one Election Denier ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the New Mexico general election, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Raul Torrez (D)

    Secretary of State

    • Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • New York

    In the New York primary, three Election Deniers ran for governor or attorney general and one moved on to the general. In the New York general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Kathy Hochul (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Letitia James (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. New York has had one bill introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • North Dakota

    In the North Dakota primary, one Election Denier ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the North Dakota general election, one Election Denier ran for Secretary of State and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • No Race in 2022

    Attorney General

    • Drew Wrigley (R) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Michael Howe (R)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

     

  • Ohio

    In the Ohio primary, five Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Ohio general election, one Election Denier ran for Secretary of State and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Michael DeWine (R) — Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Dave Yost (R) — Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Frank LaRose (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Oklahoma

    In the Oklahoma primary, one Election Denier ran for governor or attorney general and none moved on to the general. In the Oklahoma general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Kevin Stitt (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Gentner Drummond (R)

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the Oklahoma state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Oklahoma has had seven bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Oregon

    In the Oregon primary, five Election Deniers ran for governor and one moved on to the general. In the Oregon general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Tina Kotek (D)

    Attorney General

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State 

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

     

  • Pennsylvania

    In the Pennsylvania primary, five Election Deniers ran for governor and one moved on to the general. In the Pennsylvania general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Joshua Shapiro (D)

    Attorney General

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Pennsylvania has had 16 bills introduced, and two already enacted or adopted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Rhode Island

    In the Rhode Island primary, two Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Rhode Island general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Dan McKee (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Peter Neronha (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Gregg Amore (D)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Rhode Island has had two bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • South Carolina

     

    In the South Carolina primary, two Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the South Carolina general election, one Election Denier ran for attorney general and won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Henry McMaster (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Alan Wilson (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Secretary of State

    • Mark Hammond (R) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. South Carolina has had six bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • South Dakota

    In the South Dakota primary, one Election Denier ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the South Dakota general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Kristi Noem (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Marty Jackley (R)

    Secretary of State

    • Monae Johnson (R)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the South Dakota state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. South Dakota has had two bills introduced, and one already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

     

  • Tennessee

    In the Tennessee primary, one Election Denier ran for governor and one moved on to the general. In the Tennessee general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Bill Lee (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier 

    Attorney General

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State 

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Tennessee has had 18 bills introduced, and three already enacted, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Texas

    In the Texas primary, eight Election Deniers ran for governor or attorney general and two moved on to the general. In the Texas general election, two Election Deniers ran for governor and attorney general and both won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Greg Abbott (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Attorney General

    • Ken Paxton (R) – Incumbent + Election Denier

    Secretary of State

    • No Race in 2022

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Vermont

    In the Vermont primary, three Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the Vermont general election, two Election Deniers ran for governor and secretary of state and both lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Phil Scott (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Charity R. Clark (D)

    Secretary of State

    • Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D)

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people.

  • Washington

    In the Washington primary, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and none moved on to the general. In the Washington general election, no Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor 

    • No Race in 2022

    Attorney General 

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • Steve Hobbs (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Washington has had four bills introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Wisconsin

    In the Wisconsin primary, seven Election Deniers ran for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Wisconsin general election, one Election Denier ran for governor and lost.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Tony Evers (D) – Incumbent

    Attorney General

    • Josh Kaul (D) – Incumbent

    Secretary of State

    • Douglas La Follette (D) – Incumbent

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Wisconsin has had 38 bills introduced, two bills adopted, and seven bills that were adopted but vetoed, that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

  • Wyoming

    In the Wyoming primary, one Election Denier ran for governor or secretary of state and one moved on to the general. In the Wyoming general election, one Election Denier ran for secretary of state and won.

    2022 Midterm Results  

    Governor

    • Mark Gordon (R) – Incumbent

    Attorney General 

    • No Race in 2022

    Secretary of State

    • Chuck Gray (R) –Election Denier 

    The duties and election administration roles of these positions complement each other, so having an Election Denier in any one of these positions can undermine efforts to protect the vote and the will of the people. At the same time, Election Denier allies in the state legislature are trying to change how elections are run. Wyoming has had one bill introduced that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with election administration. It’s all connected, and any American who cares about the freedom to vote should be very concerned.

Governors

In 2022, 36 states had contests for governor. As of December 7, just six Election Deniers won their races for governorout of the 22 that ran in the general election. 6 of the 22 Election Denier candidates ran on a major party’s ticket. 

For more information about the role of governors in election administration, click here.

Attorneys General

In 2022, 30 states and the District of Columbia had contests for attorney general. As of December 7, just six Election Deniers won their races for attorney general out of the 11 that ran in the general election. Ten of the 11 Election Denier candidates ran on a major party’s ticket. 

For more information about the role of attorneys general in election administration, click here.

Secretaries of State

In 2022, 27 states 1In Illinois and Wisconsin, the Secretary of State signs the certificate of ascertainment but does not oversee election administration. There is a push by a number of Wisconsin candidates running in 2022 to change the duties of the office. In Alaska, the Lieutenant Governor oversees election administration. In South Carolina, the executive director of the South Carolina State Election Commission administers elections. 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 ran in the general election. Eleven of the 13 Election Denier candidates ran on a major party’s ticket. 

For more information about Election Denier candidates for secretary of state in 2022 and the role of secretaries of state in election administration, click here.

Polling

Why did Election Deniers fail so thoroughly in the midterm election? States United Action conducted statewide-representative polls of registered voters in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin that help answer this question. 

These polls were conducted before the election, in August and September, shedding light on why voters rejected Election Denier candidates when they went to the polls. 

Here’s what we learned. 

The election denial movement is unpopular. The midterm elections weren’t a fluke, or the result of a one-off slate of candidates who couldn’t connect with voters. Our poll suggests that the election denial movement itself doomed these campaigns. 

We asked respondents how they would feel about a candidate who believed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump: Would they be more likely to vote for such a candidate, less likely, or would it make no difference? A plurality of all voters across the four states (43%) said they would be less likely to vote for an Election Denier.  

The voters who often swing elections really don’t like election denial. Elections often come down to voters who aren’t attached to either major party and those who vote inconsistently. In our polls, both of those groups rejected Election Deniers at high rates. 

Among independents, 34% said they would be less likely to vote for an Election Denier, compared with only 12% who would be more likely. Inconsistent voters felt much the same way. Among Americans who sat out the 2016 election but did vote in 2020, the most common response was that they’d be less likely to support an Election Denier. That was also true for voters who switched the party they supported between 2016 and 2020. 

— Voters reject violence, threats, and lies. We wanted to know what specifically voters dislike about Election Denier candidates. So we asked them about nine behaviors. Voters said they were most concerned if candidates participated in the January 6 insurrection, encouraged people to threaten election officials, or spread lies and conspiracy theories about our election system. 

— The more voters learn about Election Deniers, the less popular they are. When voters in the poll were given more information about a hypothetical candidate’s Election Denier activity, they were more likely to express an unfavorable opinion of that candidate. 

The poll results help explain the election results. Election denial simply wasn’t a viable strategy. The lesson: It’s not just bad for our democracy, it’s bad politics. 

For a deeper dive into the polling and our methodology, click here.

Primary Analysis

Primaries are a key part of the democratic process, enabling engaged voters to choose which candidates they want to send to the general election and potentially hold office. In many cases, especially where there is a large majority of voters from one party statewide, the primary is the more competitive race. The lower voter participation in primary elections historically means a smaller subset of voters plays an outsized role in shaping the elections.  

The 2022 primaries had the highest turnout in a primary election in a midterm election year since 2000, with 29% of registered voters participating, up from an average of 27%. This was also higher than the turnout in most of the presidential election year primaries (behind only 2016 and 2020). While this higher turnout is noteworthy, the turnout did not increase by a large percentage in most states. The average turnout from 2002-2018 for primary elections during midterm election years was 25.5% and in 2022 it was 29%. 

There are, however, some states where turnout in primaries this year was much higher than expected. Notably, Kansas had a 22% increase in voter turnout from the primary in 2018. This is the largest increase in a midterm election in this period, and the highest turnout in any primary (including presidential years) that Kansas has had since 2000. Pennsylvania had a 12.5% increase over the 2018 midterm, almost matching turnout for the 2020 primary, a year that had record breaking turnouts. Georgia also saw an increase of 8.7% greater turnout than in 2018 and matched their 2020 primary turnout. 

It’s also important to understand the importance of voting for every position on the ballot in primaries and the general election. The data shows that frequently the top of the ticket, usually the governor or U.S. senator in a midterm election, gets more votes than other positions on the ballot, meaning that many voters leave parts of their ballot (often referred to as “down ticket”) empty. This trend likely contributed to increased turnout in Pennsylvania and Georgia, which have Senate elections this year, just as an abortion referendum in Kansas contributed to significant turnout despite lower participation across all of its primary races. 

Overall, this trend predicted that the November 2022 midterm would have slightly higher turnout than the 2018 midterm. According to data from the U.S. Elections Project, turnout in the 2018 election was among the highest for a midterm election in modern history, with 49% of eligible voters casting a ballot. While results from the 2022 elections are not yet fully complete, as of mid-November, the U.S. Elections Project estimates that 47% of eligible voters cast a ballot this year. In 14 states, turnout was actually slightly higher than it was in 2018. 

The Research

What We Are Tracking: Announced and/or filed candidates running in 2022 for three statewide offices with election administration responsibilities: governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.2In some states, there are candidates with filings/open campaign committees that have not taken any public actions since October 2021 to indicate they are active candidates. They are not included in our tracker. If any one of these candidates take steps that indicate they are actively running this cycle, we will add them.

Methodology:

To qualify as an Election Denier, a candidate must meet one or more of the criteria below:

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 election instead of the legitimate winner, President Joe Biden.
  • Spread lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election in public fora, including in social media, press statements, and/or comments to press.
  • Called for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election after the results were certified and/or officially audited and/or stood up to multiple legal challenges.
  • Promoted conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election in public fora, including in social media, press statements, and/or comments to press.
  • Took actions to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, including: filed or supported litigation seeking to overturn the results; and/or promoted/participated in a Stop the Steal sponsored/branded event or rally.3Common conspiracies include any host of debunked claims and myths about the 2020 election. These include sharing or liking videos by Project Veritas, amplifying claims that voting machines were tampered with, Dominion Voting Systems’ machines rigging the election, dead people voted, noncitizens and/or foreign countries were involved, voter registration numbers not matching final vote counts, ballot harvesting, and other claims about “stolen elections.”

For more information about the campaign financing of Election Deniers in key states, please see this report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Sources

  1. In Illinois and Wisconsin, the Secretary of State signs the certificate of ascertainment but does not oversee election administration. There is a push by a number of Wisconsin candidates running in 2022 to change the duties of the office. In Alaska, the Lieutenant Governor oversees election administration. In South Carolina, the executive director of the South Carolina State Election Commission administers elections.

  2. In some states, there are candidates with filings/open campaign committees that have not taken any public actions since October 2021 to indicate they are active candidates. They are not included in our tracker. If any one of these candidates take steps that indicate they are actively running this cycle, we will add them.

  3. Common conspiracies include any host of debunked claims and myths about the 2020 election. These include sharing or liking videos by Project Veritas, amplifying claims that voting machines were tampered with, Dominion Voting Systems’ machines rigging the election, dead people voted, noncitizens and/or foreign countries were involved, voter registration numbers not matching final vote counts, ballot harvesting, and other claims about “stolen elections.”