Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Is reform the way out of extremism?

Mindy Finn is the Founder and CEO of Citizen Data, a democracy-centric data analytics company. Throughout her extensive career, she has fought to improve politics, polarization, and voting, with prior roles with Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, and Twitter, Inc.

With new information coming out about Fox News' role in advancing election lies, we take this opportunity to look more closely at the lasting impact of election trust on recent elections.

Following a robust analysis of available data and insights detailed in my company Citizen Data’s latest Political Impact Report, we found that while many prominent election deniers did lose in key races in 2022, the threat of election denial remains pervasive. Yet, hope remains for pro-democracy advocates as the breadth of midterm data demonstrates the potential efficacy of electoral reform efforts on curbing candidate extremism.

In 2022, Americans were moved to the polls because of the economy more than anything else. Half of Americans ranked inflation as a top three issue, followed by abortion and immigration, both of which trailed by nearly 20%.

In Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, battleground states where the most financially-backed challenges between pro- and anti-democratic candidates took place, voters were more likely to cite “protecting elections” as a top issue surpassing “immigration” in some states.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

In fact, 61% of these voters said protecting democracy was very important in determining who they voted for during the 2022 General. Notably, it was in these battleground states that the more prominent election-denying candidates lost or underperformed compared to their more moderate counterparts, especially at the hands of Republican voters who instead decided to cast a ballot for a Democrat.

Given these trends rejecting election deniers in many key races, we were surprised to learn after examining all races for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and U.S. House & Senate nationwide, that almost half of all 2022 general election winners questioned the results of the 2020 election.

Perhaps most concerning, we found that being an “election denier” actually increased a candidate’s vote share somewhere between 1 - 5 percentage points in the general election relative to their counterparts who trusted the results of the 2020 election. This willingness to accept a candidate despite or, in some cases, because of their election denial claims tells us it’s doubtful that the election denial campaign strategy will be thrown out any time soon.

However, we don’t share this news without hope. We also investigated various election reforms that organizations like Unite America, FairVote, Open Primaries, Institute for Political Innovation, and countless others have been pursuing for decades, like Ranked Choice Voting (RCV or Instant Runoff Voting) and eliminating partisan primaries to measure the role they played in curbing extremism like 2020 election denial.

We found that states with Top 2, Top 4 RCV, or statewide RCV were three times less likely to have an election denier win in the 2022 general election compared to states without these reforms in use. Even more encouraging, we found widespread support for these reforms, as nearly 6 in 10 voters nationwide said they would support a reform similar to Top 4 in Alaska in their state.

The alarm must not silence in the wake of high-profile election deniers losing this past election cycle, because as the data shows, this is likely just the beginning. The democracy community must band together to disrupt the potential positive side effects of election denial in the campaign process and support reforms that enable moderation and competition.

Access to the preview version of our Political Impact Report is available at this LINK, and those interested in the full report can submit their inquiry HERE.

Read More

Blurred image of an orchestra
Melpomenem/Getty Images

The ideal democracy: An orchestra in harmony

Frazier is an assistant professor at the Crump College of Law at St. Thomas University. Starting this summer, he will serve as a Tarbell fellow.

In the symphony of our democracy, we can find a compelling analogy with an orchestra. The interplay of musicians trained in different instruments, each contributing to the grand musical tapestry, offers lessons for our democratic system. As we navigate the complexities of governance, let us draw inspiration from the orchestra's structure, dynamics and philosophy.

Keep ReadingShow less
David French

New York Times columnist David French was removed from the agenda of a faith-basd gathering because we was too "divisive."

Macmillan Publishers

Is canceling David French good for civic life?

Harwood is president and founder of The Harwood Institute. This is the latest entry in his series based on the "Enough. Time to Build.” campaign, which calls on community leaders and active citizens to step forward and build together.

On June 10-14, the Presbyterian Church in America held its annual denominational assembly in Richmond, Va. The PCA created considerable national buzz in the lead-up when it abruptly canceled a panel discussion featuring David French, the highly regarded author and New York Times columnist.

The panel carried the innocuous-sounding title, “How to Be Supportive of Your Pastor and Church Leaders in a Polarized Political Year.” The reason for canceling it? French, himself a long-time PCA member, was deemed too “divisive.” This despite being a well-known, self-identified “conservative” and PCA adherent. Ironically, the loudest and most divisive voices won the day.

Keep ReadingShow less
Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer testifies at the Democratic National Convention in 1964.

Bettmann/Getty Images

60 years later, it's time to restart the Freedom Summer

Johnson is a United Methodist pastor, the author of "Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community" and program director for the Bridge Alliance, which houses The Fulcrum.

Sixty years have passed since Freedom Summer, that pivotal season of 1964 when hundreds of young activists descended upon an unforgiving landscape, driven by a fierce determination to shatter the chains of racial oppression. As our nation teeters on the precipice of another transformative moment, the echoes of that fateful summer reverberate across the years, reminding us that freedom remains an unfinished work.

At the heart of this struggle stood Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper's daughter whose voice thundered like a prophet's in the wilderness, signaling injustice. Her story is one of unyielding defiance, of a spirit that the brutal lash of bigotry could not break. When Hamer testified before the Democratic National Convention in 1964, her words, laced with the pain of beatings and the fire of righteous indignation, laid bare the festering wound of racial terror that had long plagued our nation. Her resilience in the face of such adversity is a testament to the power of the human spirit.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kamala Harris waiving as she exits an airplane

If President Joe Biden steps aside and endorses Vice President Kamala Harris, her position could be strengthened by a ranked-choice vote among convention delegates.

Anadolu/Getty Images

How best to prepare for a brokered convention

Richie is co-founder and senior advisor of FairVote.

As the political world hangs on whether Joe Biden continues his presidential campaign, an obvious question is how the Democratic Party might pick a new nominee. Its options are limited, given the primary season is long past and the Aug. 19 convention is only weeks away. But they are worth getting right for this year and future presidential cycles.

Suppose Biden endorses Vice President Kamala Harris and asks his delegates to follow his lead. She’s vetted, has close relationships across the party, and could inherit the Biden-Harris campaign and its cash reserves without a hitch. As Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested, however, Harris would benefit from a mini-primary among delegates before the convention – either concluding at the virtual roll call that is already planned or at the in-person convention.

Keep ReadingShow less