Whether Donald Trump’s election denialism is a winning general election message for Republicans is a looming question that won’t be answered until November, when midterm voters will decide which party they’d rather see control Congress. But one thing is certain after Tuesday night’s batch of primaries: election denialism sure can win Republican primaries. “It’s very clear that the people who show up on election day are MAGA voters and the grassroots voters,” said one MAGA consultant. “And the grassroots belongs to Donald Trump.”
It was, in the end, a very good night for Trump’s attempts to relitigate the 2020 election. In Arizona, his entire slate of statewide endorsees—Kari Lake for governor, Blake Masters for Senate, Mark Finchem for secretary of state, all of whom made election skepticism a cornerstone of their platforms—all won their races. (Lake, who initially appeared to be trailing the Mike Pence-endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson, has since pulled ahead by about 2 points.) In Michigan, John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who has stated outright that Joe Biden lost the election, beat Peter Meijer, the maverick one-term congressman who voted to impeach Trump for his role on Jan. 6th.
The jury is still out in states like Washington, where two House Republicans who also voted for impeachment—Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse—are currently on track to defeat their pro-Trump challengers in the state’s 3rd and 4th districts, respectively. Trump’s intentionally confusing Missouri Senate endorsement, in which he simply threw his support behind “Eric”—leaving it up to voters to decipher whether he meant Eric Schmitt (who won) or Eric Greitens (who lost)—is its own category of weirdness. But Arizona is the battleground that G.O.P. insiders are watching most closely, for a number of reasons.