Two Years After January 6, Public Wise Report Finds that Democracy is Still Under Threat as 64% of Insurrectionist Candidates Won Races in 2022
Insurrectionist candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives and district level positions performed better than state level candidates in 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: Addie Bullock, [email protected]
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Wise, a voting rights organization which works to secure a government that reflects the will and protects the rights of the people, today released Democracy on the ballot: Voters’ intentions and actions in battleground states in the midterm elections research report. Although the 2022 midterms resulted in key electoral victories for pro-democracy candidates across the country, insurrectionist candidates won a majority of their elections at the local, state and national level and continue to pose a threat to the future of our democracy.
“As we acknowledge the second anniversary of January 6th, we can celebrate the wins we achieved in 2022 while recognizing that our work is far from over. January 6th is just one facet of a decades-long anti-democracy campaign, and many of the individuals directly involved in the planning, promotion and execution of a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election continue to serve in positions of power at every level of our government,” said Christina Baal-Owens, executive director of Public Wise. “January 6th and the ongoing attacks against our democracy goes beyond former President Trump. We need to protect and expand our democracy, and we must come together as a country to fight back against this extremist ideology working to rob Americans of our fundamental freedoms.”
The report consists of data from October 2021 and February 2022 national surveys and an August 2022 battleground state survey of registered voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. All polling was conducted by Change Research. Key report highlights include:
- Out of the 344 insurrectionist candidates on the ballot in November 2022, 221 were elected.
- 72% of the insurrectionists who won election are in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- 69% of the candidates running for office were running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 22% of insurrectionist candidates ran for state-wide offices, and 9% ran in state legislative districts.
- Insurrectionist candidates running at the district level performed better than those running in state-wide elections, with 69% of district-level insurrectionists winning their races, compared to 48% of state-wide candidates.
- Insurrectionist incumbents at every level of government remain in office, with 98% of incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives who participated in January 6th, voted against certification of the 2020 election results or spread the Big Lie holding onto their seats.
- The three incumbent insurrectionist members of the House of Representatives that lost their races were all in districts where their seats were redrawn into more competitive or Democratic leaning seats prior to the election.
- Every single insurrectionist incumbent running for state-wide office won re-election. Insurrectionist candidates struggled in battleground states, particularly non incumbents.
- In the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, 98% of incumbent insurrectionists won their races, while 67% of newcomer candidates lost.
“Our research shows that democracy was indeed on the ballot in the midterm elections. Voters indicated that they want accountability and, especially in statewide races, they enacted that accountability with their votes. However, the majority of insurrectionist candidates still won their races. The data show that state level wins for pro-democracy candidates should not obscure the success of insurrectionist candidates running for US House and state legislative offices,” said Dr. Jessica Kalbfeld, director of research at Public Wise.
“The members of Congress that voted against certification on January 6 betrayed their constituents, their country and our constitution, but they were overwhelmingly re-elected and suffered no consequences. How can the American people trust their representatives if they get off scot-free for attempting to overturn a free and fair election? They are being rewarded for their betrayal of our democracy. Our democratic systems are under attack, and we cannot let a few wins in 2022 distract from the work that remains,” said Christina Baal-Owens.
VOTERS ON JANUARY 6TH
Public Wise found that across voter surveys in battleground states, voters were reluctant to vote for candidates who had been physically present at the Capitol on January 6th or who had endorsed the Big Lie, but were more forgiving about supporting an elected official who spoke at the Stop the Steal Rally, with just over a third of voters saying they should not remain in office. 83% of voters said they would not vote for candidates who had participated in the fake electors scheme and 67% of voters said that officials who coordinated with insurrection organizers to help them navigate the Capitol building should not remain in office. A slight majority of registered voters rejected core tenets of the Big Lie, and candidates running for state-wide office who promoted the Big Lie performed disproportionately poorly in the elections – 64% of them lost their races. A third of the voters surveyed by Public Wise are believers of the Big Lie, and another 10-18% of voters said that they, while they do not agree with the premise of the Big Lie, would not state that they disagreed with it.
EMERGING THREATS AGAINST DEMOCRACY
The 2022 election also demonstrated that former President Trump is just one element of this anti-democratic movement. Public Wise found that candidates who received endorsements from Trump fared worse than those who did not. While 91% of Trump endorsed district level candidates won their seats, only 52% of endorsed state-wide candidates won their seats. However, new anti-democratic powers are emerging, unallied with Trump. Governor DeSantis ousted an elected state attorney, is leading voter suppression efforts across Florida and passed dangerous anti LGBTQIA+ legislation. January 6 is just one facet of a decades-long campaign against democracy, and many of the individuals directly involved in an attempted overthrow of a free and fair election are now in positions of power at the local, state and federal level. Public Wise’s Insurrection Index has identified 60 candidates that represent an emerging threat to our democracy. While 56% of these candidates lost their 2022 elections, 27 emerging threat candidates were elected to office across 17 states, including to high profile offices like U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, including Arizona’s State Senator David Farnsworth, Indiana’s Secretary of State Diego Morales and Ohio’s U.S. Senator J.D. Vance.
You can access the report here.
About Public Wise
Persistent and unyielding in our commitment to a just multiracial democracy, Public Wise fights to secure a government that reflects the will and protects the rights of the people. We accomplish this through education, research, organizing, funding, and partnerships that support more voting and more equitable representation.