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The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Here comes the election-denier storm

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

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The big idea

Here comes the election-denier storm

correction

A previous version of this newsletter provided an incorrect count of the number of Republican nominees who have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election. The correct number is 291, not 299. The error was caused by an incorrect application of the criteria The Post is using to identify election deniers. This newsletter has been corrected.

The importance of prosecuting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrectionists and keeping track of the degree to which Republicans reject President Biden’s 2020 victory ultimately has less to do with the last election and more with the future of the republic, notably in November and in 2024.

For the past two years, the GOP has been enlisting candidates who profess to believe former president Donald Trump’s false claim that he was cheated out of a second term and giving those partisan believers new powers over future election results.

Republicans increasingly play down the Capitol riot, in which Trump supporters violently interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory. Most House Republicans recently voted against legislation to make it harder for Congress to overthrow a presidential election.

No reporter has tracked these trends more painstakingly than my colleague Amy Gardner, who was also the journalist who revealed how Trump unsuccessfully pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the Peach State.

Amy’s latest is every bit as unsettling as her previous entries: “A majority of GOP nominees for House, Senate and statewide offices to be decided next month — 291 in all — have either questioned or outright denied the results of the 2020 election.”

That includes “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,” Amy reported.

  • “Of the roughly 300 GOP candidates on the ballot, 174 are vying for safely Republican seats, while another 51 are in neck-and-neck races.”
  • Election deniers are especially prevalent in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin not coincidentally the six battleground states in which Trump contested his defeat. That has ramifications for 2024.
  • Of the 419 Republican House nominees, 235 (56%) are election deniers. Of them 148 are in safe GOP districts, another 28 in tight races, according to the Cook Political Report. (Congress is Ground Zero for certifying or contesting a presidential result.)

As Amy notes, 139 House Republicans voted against certifying Biden’s victory a few hours after Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol. “But with 37 election deniers who are not incumbents running in safely Republican or competitive House districts, that number will almost certainly rise after November,” Amy reported.

(Sidebar: “Election denier” feels awfully stuck in the past. We need a better term for people maneuvering to potentially scuttle the next election. “Anti-democrats” falls short for a couple of reasons. Maybe “anti-republicans?” This is above The Daily 202’s pay grade.)

Worries grow

If, as political forecasters of both parties predict, Republicans recapture the House next month, election deniers will determine who the next Speaker is. That person would serve as acting president if Congress has not certified a winner by Jan. 20.

That’s in addition to governors, lieutenant governors, secretaries of state, attorneys general and Senators, who could also play significant roles in the outcome.

(Sidebar: Remember that weird boomlet of speculation Republicans might make Trump the House Speaker, given that the Constitution doesn’t require the post to be filled with a member of Congress? Given the potential election-denier majority, Trump might not even need to take the job to have enormous sway over his party’s legislative and oversight agenda. That, in turn, will make keeping track of his Mar-a-Lago supplicants and lobbyists an important job.)

Remember: There’s just no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Some isolated examples (among which Republicans are amply represented), to be sure, but not on a scale that would tip the results of a presidential election. Trump’s Justice Department investigated allegations and came up empty. Given how eagerly Attorney General Bill Barr spread baseless suspicions of voter fraud, that’s pretty notable.

Amy reached out to a few experts to get their diagnosis. It wasn’t pretty.

“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.’”

But only if they lose, of course. Which is why this is about the future.

Use this new tool to find where Republican election deniers are on the ballot near you

What’s happening now

Court declares DACA program illegal, but leaves policy intact for nearly 600,000 immigrant ‘Dreamers’

A three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the Obama administration did not have the legal authority to create DACA in 2012, affirming a July 2021 ruling from a federal judge in Texas who barred the Biden administration from enrolling new immigrants in the decade-old program,” NBC News' Camilo Montayo-Galvez reports.

Cheney urges Ariz. voters to reject GOP candidates for governor, secretary of state

“Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) urged voters in Arizona to reject Republican nominees for governor and secretary of state, describing them as threats to democracy because they have worked to overturn election results in 2020 and indicated they may not accept the outcome this year,Azi Paybarah reports.

North Korea flies warplanes near South Korea after missile launches

“North Korea flew 12 warplanes near its border with South Korea on Thursday, prompting the South to scramble 30 military planes in response, Seoul officials said. The highly unusual incident came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea in its sixth round of missile tests in less than two weeks,” the Associated Press' Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong Hyung report.

The war in Ukraine

Zelensky to address the European Political Community

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to address the European Political Community, a forum of more than 40 governments, when it meets for the first time in Prague on Thursday. Separately, the Ukrainian leader said in his Wednesday night address that he had discussed with top commanders a plan to liberate the entire country from Russian troops,” Kelly Kasulis Cho and Jennifer Hassan report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Democrats aim to keep spotlight on abortion, as they face midterm head winds

With five weeks left until the midterms, Democrats are seeking to use every tool at their disposal to keep the focus on abortion, an issue they see as a powerful motivator and closing message. Their efforts have collided with ramped-up Republican attempts to center the elections on crime and the economy, posing a growing challenge in the final stretch,” Annie Linskey reports.

“A stretch of strong summer special election performances emboldened Democrats’ hopes of defying predictions of a GOP wave. As time has passed since the June Supreme Court decision that polls show was unpopular with most Americans, Republicans said they have sensed a stronger opportunity to make inroads with late-deciding voters. Recent polls show GOP candidates making headway in some key contests.”

Monkeypox’s toll: Stories of agony, isolation and government incompetence

“Nearly five months after a Massachusetts hospital detected the first U.S. monkeypox case, more than 26,000 Americans have been infected, the most in domestic and global history. No other country even comes close,” Fenit Nirappil reports.

“The outbreak has overwhelmingly affected men who have sex with men, upending gay life as people paused their sex lives and those who contracted the virus remained isolated for weeks, sometimes battling excruciating pain from lesions as they went to the bathroom. Monkeypox brought back painful memories of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that also disproportionately affected gay men.”

… and beyond

U.S. looks to ease Venezuela sanctions, enabling Chevron to pump oil

In exchange for the significant sanctions relief, the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would resume long-suspended talks with the country’s opposition to discuss conditions needed to hold free and fair presidential elections in 2024, the people said. The U.S., Venezuela’s government and some Venezuelan opposition figures have also worked out a deal that would free up hundreds of millions of dollars in Venezuelan state funds frozen in American banks to pay for imports of food, medicine and equipment for the country’s battered electricity grid and municipal water systems,” the Wall Street Journal's Vivian Salama and Kejal Vyas report.

The Biden agenda

Biden, DeSantis meet in Florida, pledging bipartisanship on Ian relief

“As President Biden visited this storm-stricken community in southwest Florida on Wednesday, touring the damage from Hurricane Ian and pledging billions of dollars for recovery, he used the opportunity to praise one of his top political rivals and harshest critics — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Toluse Olorunnipa reports.

“'I think he’s done a good job,' Biden told reporters when asked about the governor’s handling of the deadly storm. 'We have very different political philosophies, but we’ve worked hand in glove. … In dealing with this crisis, we’ve been in complete lockstep.'

Biden's new Saudi strategy

“With a new warning that the White House might support legislation targeting OPEC+ in Congress, Biden crossed a symbolic threshold — and sent a clear signal to the Saudis that he’s prepared to escalate,” Axios' Alayna Treene and Hans Nichols report.

Biden is now at odds with the two entities — Big Oil companies and Big Oil countries — that have the power to solve his most pressing domestic political problem: rising prices at the pump.”

U.S. aims to turn Taiwan into giant weapons depot

“American officials are intensifying efforts to build a giant stockpile of weapons in Taiwan after studying recent naval and air force exercises by the Chinese military around the island, according to current and former officials,” the New York Times' Edward Wong and John Ismay report.

Hurricane Ian’s destruction, visualized

The scope of the devastation was only beginning to come into view days after Ian slammed into the peninsula as a Category 4 hurricane. Punishing winds and waters left a trail of destruction on the southwest coast and into central Florida, flooding streets and homes and knocking out power,” Brittany Shammas, Hannah Dormido, Júlia Ledur, Laris Karklis and Daniel Wolfe report.

Hot on the left

She had an abortion with Herschel Walker. She also had a child with him.

“After a woman revealed that Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker had urged her to have an abortion, Walker adamantly denied the story and claimed he had no idea who this woman could be. But there’s a good reason the woman finds that defense highly doubtful: She’s the mother of one of his children,” the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger reports.

Hot on the right

House GOP amps up talk about impeaching Biden’s border chief, posing a test for McCarthy

“More than a dozen of former President Donald Trump’s top congressional allies — and several Republicans close to the leadership — told CNN that the focus instead should be on targeting Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and that a new GOP majority should hold impeachment proceedings over the problems at the border. Senior GOP sources close to leadership say it’s a matter of when — not if — House Republicans initiate an impeachment inquiry and that Mayorkas has become their No. 1 target, with their base itching for revenge after Trump’s two impeachments," CNN's Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju report.

Today in Washington

Biden will tour IBM in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., at 1:20 p.m. At 2 p.m., he will deliver remarks.

At 3:05 p.m., he will leave Poughkeepsie for Red Bank, N.J., where he will participate in a Democratic National Committee reception at 5 p.m.

Biden will leave for New York City at 6:15 p.m., where he will participate in a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser at 8 p.m.

At 9:20 p.m., Biden will leave New York City for JFK, where he will fly to Andrews. Biden is expected back at the White House at 10:50 p.m.

In closing

Coffee vs. tea smackdown

Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Want to know which is healthier?

“Whatever your preference, scientists have found that regularly drinking coffee or tea can provide a variety of health benefits. But how do coffee and tea compare in a head-to-head matchup? We took a look at the research, and here’s what we found,” Anahad O’Connor, Aaron Steckelberg and Garland Potts report.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

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