Image courtesy of the Guardian
By Jack Rowing
Early in the election cycle, The Lincoln Project made headlines as a group of Republicans who were raising money, buying ads, and campaigning for Democrats. Their self-proclaimed mission was to defeat Donald Trump and Trumpism.
Headed by Republicans from all across the country, they raised and spent 47 million dollars against Republican candidates. Major Democratic donor Stephen Mandel gave the project 1 million of those dollars. Their social media presence is filled with ads they placed all across the country, attacking the current Republican establishment that is headed by Donald Trump. Sticking to the Biden campaign’s consistent message, they attacked President Trump on character, trust, and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Rahm Emmanuel told a television audience early in the election cycle that 2020 would be “the year of the Biden Republican.”
However, it appears that the idea of the Biden Republican never came to fruition. Trump’s share of the Republican party increased from 90 percent in 2016 to 93 percent in 2020. With the exception of the Senatorial race in Arizona, Senatorial targets of the Lincoln Project, were unsuccessful including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Susan Collins, and Senator Joni Ernst, held onto their seats. Despite massive funding from the Lincoln Project and others, these seats remained in Republican control. The Republican Party is still competing to hold the Senate, as it will all come down to a runoff race in Georgia. The Lincoln Project spent major campaign funds in Iowa, Illinois, Texas, South Carolina, Montana, and Georgia, and, with the exception of Georgia and Illinois, Trump maintained the same success in states he enjoyed following the 2016 election.
After the election, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the group saying they had taken money from Democraticdonors to run a failing strategy; she described the project as approaching “scam territory.”
They faced backlash from author Alex Vitale, who tweeted that supporters of the Lincoln Project were “merely giving away money to GOP consultants and media empires.”
On the podcast Economist Asks Jennifer Horn defended the group she co-founded by saying that “that more people voted for Joe Biden, that’s how that’s a win for us.”
In Arizona, a state which has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once since 1948, gave its electoral votes to Joe Biden. This impressive shift in the state has been credited to two things: a major jump in the number of left-leaning latino voters and grassroots activism led by them. As well as key endorsements for Biden from two Republicans, former Senator Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of the deceased Senator John McCain. Senator John McCain’s war record had been criticized by Donald Trump
“I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said, which may be the cause of a smaller percentage of Republicans voting for Trump in Arizona than the national average; and, given the closeness of the election, it was essential to a Biden victory.
It has become clear that the Lincoln Project’s tactics had a negligible effect upon the election, and the hope for the Biden Republican year went unrealized. However, the question of Biden Republicans’ existence beyond an abnormality remains. The Tower examined the data from seven key states: Maine, New Hampshire, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. Upon examining the discrepancies between the top of the ballot races and the Governor, House, and Senate races, the data shows an odd phenomenon: coattails in politics—the polling theory that top of the ballot races carry success through the bottom of the ballot. Essentially, if Democrats show up to support their presidential candidate, they will also support the Democratic governor’s reelection, whether or not they put forethought into it.
However, upon examination of the states, we notice that thousands of people voted for Republican candidates down the ballot who did not support the President. Senator Susan Collins of Maine received 43 thousand more votes than President Trump, and Republican Governor Chris Sununu received 143 thousand more votes than the President. Similar results are noted in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. So, thousands of Americans, at the very least, who are partial to Republican candidates and conservative beliefs voted against Donald Trump. 38 percent of the country is independent, and 35 percent of those independents say they lean towards conservatism. This may explain the discrepancies between the exit polls and the down-ballot races. While more demographic information will help definitively say what role Biden conservatives played in the election, it is safe to theorize that the Lincoln Project did not affect major change in the behavior of Republican voters; there simply is a sizable portion of conservatives who oppose Donald Trump.