I want to follow up on yesterday’s extra post.
Psychiatrists have a word for it: projection. The “Big Lie” is a classic example–accuse the other team of doing what, in fact, your own guys are doing and/or attempting to do.
The most obvious cases are the vanishingly few situations in which a particular voter is found to have committed vote fraud of some sort; in every news report of such behavior that I’ve seen, the culprit was Republican. Reliable research shows that individual voting misbehaviors are not only rare, they aren’t the problem. These scattered incidents don’t change results.
We also know that, despite hysterical accusations, non-citizens aren’t descending on polling places and casting votes for “the other side.”
As Paul Ogden has frequently reminded us, the real danger isn’t coming from people casting votes. The threat is that the people counting those votes will be dishonest. So we should all be concerned by that recent report from the Brennan Center.
Across the country, races are well underway for offices like state secretary of state that will play key roles in running the 2024 elections. This year, these races are attracting far more attention than in recent memory. Part of the reason for the increasing visibility of election officials is the spread of the Big Lie that election fraud “stole” the 2020 race from President Trump. In state after state, campaigns are focused on election denial as a central issue.
In this series, the Brennan Center examines the finances and political messages in contests that are important to the future of election administration. Throughout 2022, we are taking a regular look at relevant contests in battleground states that had the closest results in the 2020 presidential election. As candidates file disclosure forms and information becomes available, we will examine questions such as how much money is raised, who the biggest donors are, how much candidates rely on small donors, and how much outside spenders like super PACs and dark money groups spend.
After examining available data on races for secretary of state in the states in the states in the sample, the Center found some key trends. They are disturbing enough that I am quoting them in their entirety:
Money is flowing into secretary of state races at a rate not seen in recent memory. Across the six battleground states we are tracking, candidates have collectively raised $13.3 million, more than two and a half times the $4.7 million raised by the analogous point in the 2018 cycle, and more than five times that of 2014.
New data in secretary of state contests reveals election deniers in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada either in the lead or running a close second in fundraising. On the other hand, candidates who have condemned election denial have overwhelming fundraising leads so far in Michigan and Minnesota.
Illustrating the nationalization of secretary of state races, national groups and donors are spending to influence them, including Donald Trump’s leadership PAC and others with ties to efforts to challenge the 2020 result. On the other side, several national liberal groups are newly becoming active in secretary of state and local races to support opponents of the Big Lie.
Donors who have not given to secretary of state candidates before are making major contributions with a clear pattern of support for election denial candidates or for candidates who are running on the threat election denial poses to democracy.
Election denial claims, as well as claims that it is an existential threat to democracy, are heating up at the state level, and they are also showing up in more local election official contests, notably in Georgia and Nevada. Super PACs on both sides of the issue spent to influence local races in Wisconsin in April. In those elections, of the six candidates supported by outside messaging casting doubt on the last election, five won office, and three of those unseated incumbents.
There is much more detail at the link. The report also collected campaign statements and ads premised on or supportive of the Big Lie in ten battleground states. And it identifies the national funders of those efforts. I encourage you to read the entire report.
As the January 6th Committee hearings get underway, we are learning that the insurrection on that date was only one manifestation of a concerted effort at a coup–a deliberate effort to overturn the will of the people that began almost immediately after the election. The Brennan report is evidence–if more evidence was needed–that January 6th was not a “one off” nor a spontaneous event. The cabal plotting that coup and its fellow-travelers are nothing if not persistent.
The people screaming “Stop the Steal” are precisely the people intent upon stealing the next election. They have to be stopped.