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A majority of GOP nominees — 299 in all — deny the 2020 election results

Former President Donald Trump rallied in Warren, Michigan Saturday, endorsing several candidates, such as Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tudor Dixon. According to an analysis, a majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate, and key statewide offices have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election.Emily Elconin/Getty

WASHINGTON — A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate, and key statewide offices — 299 in all — have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Candidates who have challenged or refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory are running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in four states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined.

Although some are running in heavily Democratic areas and are expected to lose, most of the election deniers nominated are likely to win: Of the nearly 300 on the ballot, 174 are running for safely Republican seats. Another 51 will appear on the ballot in tightly contested races.

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The implications will be lasting: If Republicans take control of the House, as many political forecasters predict, election deniers would hold enormous sway over the choice of the nation’s next speaker, who in turn could preside over the House in a future contested presidential election. The winners of all the races examined by The Post — those for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, Senate, and House — will hold some measure of power overseeing American elections.

Many of these candidates echo the false claims of former president Donald Trump — claims that have been thoroughly investigated and dismissed by myriad officials and courts. Experts said the insistence on such claims, despite the lack of evidence, reflects a willingness among election-denying candidates to undermine democratic institutions when it benefits their side.

The Post’s count — assembled from public statements, social media posts, and actions taken by the candidates to deny the legitimacy of the last presidential vote — shows how the movement arising from Trump’s thwarted plot to overturn the 2020 election is, in many respects, even stronger two years later. Far from repudiating candidates who embrace Trump’s false fraud claims, GOP primary voters have empowered them.

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The issue has dominated in key battlegrounds. In Warren, Mich., on Saturday, Trump campaigned for three statewide candidates, all of them deniers: Tudor Dixon for governor, Matthew DePerno for attorney general, and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state.

“I don’t believe we’ll ever have a fair election again,” Trump told the crowd. ‘’I don’t believe it.’’

Scholars said the predominance of election deniers in the GOP bears alarming similarities to authoritarian movements in other countries, which often begin with efforts to delegitimize elections. Many of those promoting the stolen-election narrative, they said, know that it is false and are using it to gain power.

“Election denialism is a form of corruption,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, the author of ‘’Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present’' and a historian at New York University. “The party has now institutionalized this form of lying, this form of rejection of results. So it’s institutionalized illegal activity. These politicians are essentially conspiring to make party dogma the idea that it’s possible to reject certified results.”

In the short term, scholars said, that party dogma is likely to produce multiple election challenges this fall from deniers who lose. It could poison the 2024 presidential race, as well.

“It’s quite possible in 2022 we’re going to have a serious set of challenges before the new Congress is seated, and then this will escalate as we move toward 2024 and another presidential election, in which the candidates, again, almost required by the Trumpians, will be challenging election outcomes,” said Larry Jacobs, a politics professor at the University of Minnesota whose areas of study include legislative politics.

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In the longer term, Jacobs said, the country’s democratic foundations are at risk.

“It is a disease that is spreading through our political process, and its implications are very profound,” Jacobs said. “This is no longer about Donald Trump. This is about the entire electoral system and what constitutes legitimate elections. All of that is now up in the air.”

The Post has identified candidates as election deniers if they directly questioned Biden’s victory, opposed the counting of Biden’s electoral college votes, expressed support for a partisan post-election ballot review, signed on to lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 result, or attended or expressed support for the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington that preceded the riot at the US Capitol.

Among the 299 are GOP candidates vying to take over from Republicans who, despite overall support for Trump, have refrained from embracing his false narrative of fraud.

For instance, Eric Schmitt, the Missouri attorney general on the ballot for US Senate this fall, was one of 18 Republican attorneys general and 126 House members who signed on to a lawsuit seeking to overturn the popular vote in Pennsylvania. He would replace Roy Blunt, a retiring GOP senator who voted to certify the 2020 election. In a statement explaining the vote at the time, Blunt cited the “more than 90 judges — many of them Republican-appointed, including several nominated by President Trump,” who dismissed attempts by Trump and his allies to prove the 2020 vote was marred by fraud.

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Also among the 2022 crop of election-denying candidates are those who actively promoted misinformation. Anna Paulina Luna, the GOP nominee in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, spread unfounded accusations on social media that Dominion Voting Systems equipment rigged the 2020 outcome and expressed support for decertifying Arizona’s result even after a partisan post-election audit found that Biden had indeed won the state.