During the 2022 primary season, Democrats actively meddled in a number of Republican races – hoping to boost GOP candidates who they viewed as too extreme (especially on the issue of election denialism) to win general elections.
All told, Democrats spent millions of dollars interfering in Republican primaries for Senate, House and governor around the country.
The debate at the time was whether this was dirty pool by Democrats. After all, they – and President Joe Biden in particular – had made the defense of democracy from those who would question it the centerpiece of the 2020 campaign and beyond.
If Democrats truly believed that sowing doubt about free and fair elections was a deep and serious threat to democracy, then how could they justify spending money to elevate candidates who espoused those very views?
That remains a worthwhile debate. But what is beyond debate is that Democratic meddling in Republican primaries was very effective.
Consider the six races where, according to CNN projections, Democrats successfully helped boost far-right Republicans.
* Illinois governor: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who was considered potentially vulnerable at the start of the election cycle, cruised to victory over GOP nominee Darren Bailey, leading 54%-43% with 84% of the estimated vote in.
* Maryland governor: Democrat Wes Moore easily defeated Republican Dan Cox. With 76% of the estimated vote in, Moore had a 22-point advantage.
* Michigan’s 3rd District: Democrat Hillary Scholten beat Republican John Gibbs 55%-42%. “We thought he was an easier candidate and he has proven to be,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney told CNN’s Jake Tapper of Gibbs last week. “Because he’s a nut.” (Worth noting: Maloney conceded his reelection bid on Wednesday.)
* New Hampshire Senate: Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable incumbents at the outset of the cycle, defeated GOP nominee Don Bolduc.
* New Hampshire’s 2nd District: Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster cruised past Republican Bob Burns 56%-44%.
* Pennsylvania governor: Democrat Josh Shapiro absolutely crushed Republican DougMastriano, winning by a 56%-42% margin with 95% of the estimated vote in.
Add it up and you get this: Every single Republican who was promoted by Democrats and advanced out of their primary lost the general election on Tuesday. And all but one was losing by double digits as of Wednesday afternoon.
Every one of those six Democrats, I would guess, would gladly trade the brief disapprobation for their party’s meddling in primaries for those far-easier-than-expected victories on Election Day.
The Point: Because politics is a game of copycat, my strong guess is that we will see this happen again (and again) in the future. Because, like it or not, it works.