May 5, 2022
This year, the broad authoritarian movement coursing through the Republican Party is putting democracy’s very existence on the ballot. To defeat this threat, The Lincoln Project announced the most crucial races to the survival of democracy in the United States. 

“After this week’s results, it’s clear the Republican Party is fully an authoritarian movement,” said Reed Galen. “This election is not a referendum on Joe Biden or competing policy positions, but rather a zero-sum power game. If Republicans win, they will continue to march our nation towards autocracy, undermine democratic institutions, and eliminate basic rights and individual liberty. Democracy in America won’t die in a coup d’etat, but at the ballot box.”

Unlike other PACs, The Lincoln Project is not going after easy races to bolster its winning percentage. Each race was evaluated and scored on whether it plays an outsized role creating a positive, pro-democracy outcome in 2024, the importance towards controlling the state’s governor’s office and Congressional delegation, and finally, an individual candidate’s support for liberalism. This list will fluctuate as races evolve throughout the cycle and The Lincoln Project re-evaluates the score. 


Arizona – Governor

This pivotal swing state in national elections creates an environment where the entire apparatus of elections would be at risk of falling under the control of individuals actively embracing the notion that the 2020 elections were fraudulent. 

Arizona – Senate

On the Republican side, all the likely contenders among the five candidates running have made Trumpism and the 2020 elections central themes of their campaign.

Georgia – Senate

In 2022 Warnock is seeking reelection for a full-term in a race and state that matters both for control of the United States Senate and symbolically in the battle to defeat Trumpism.

Michigan – Governor

The Governor’s race is perhaps the most important election in the country for defending America’s Democracy. Michigan is one of five states that will determine the winner of the 2024 Presidential Elections. A Republican Governor could give the party complete control of the election certification process. 

Michigan – Secretary of State

The Michigan Secretary of State alone appoints the occupant who serves as the state’s Director of Elections. Together, the two positions will be at the forefront of Michigan’s 2024 election certification process. 

Nevada – Senate

The Nevada Senate race will serve as a critical litmus test of whether Democrats can maintain and solidify their advantage in the state.

Ohio – Senate

While the race presents Democrats with an opportunity, it also provides the illiberal forces of MAGA and Trumpism one of their best chances to add another full-fledged, Hawlesque advocate in the Senate if Vance prevails.

Pennsylvania – Governor

In Presidential elections, it is nearly impossible for a Democrat Presidential candidate to prevail without winning in the Keystone state. If Democrats lose the Governor’s race, it’s hard to envision them winning critical down ballot races in the state, and the U.S. Senate election.

Pennsylvania – Senate

The race for retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey’s seat offers the Democrats their best opportunity to pick up a seat currently controlled by the GOP. The winner of the Pennsylvania Senate contest will have the effect of marginally tipping the partisan scales down-ballot to the party that wins.

Pennsylvania – Congressional District 8

As one of the 13 congressional districts across the nation which was won in the presidential election by Donald Trump and a Democrat Member of Congress, the 8th district is essential for Democrats’ efforts to retain their majority in the House. Since Pennsylvania’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives is narrowly divided; congressional elections in the state will play a decisive role in determining which party controls the majority of the delegation in Congress should the 2024 POTUS race be decided on Capitol Hill.

Pennsylvania – Congressional District 7 

Situated north of Philadelphia along the New Jersey border, the district sits smack dab on the Bannon-line in the Lehigh Valley. The outcome in the 7th, and the make-up of turnout in the district, will have implications beyond the House race including the potential to impact up the ballot in the U.S. Senate and Governor’s races.

Pennsylvania – Congressional District 17

The swing nature of the area and the changes in the district’s makeup, coupled with the importance of retaining the seat for Democrats makes this a marquee house race in 2022 in Pennsylvania and nationally. Generically, the redrawn district favors Democrats by less than 2% making it one of the most organically competitive seats in the nation and the most in the state.

Wisconsin – Governor

The outcome of the Wisconsin Governor’s race will be critical to protecting democracy. Incumbent democrat Governor Tony Evers serves as a protection against efforts by the Republican state legislative majority to gerrymander and contest the outcome of the elections in the state.

Wisconsin – Senate

While in the Senate, Johnson has been far to the right of much of the GOP’s caucus and has trafficked extensively in conspiracy theories while utilizing Senate investigative powers to help push or defend Trump and Trumpism.

The Lincoln Project is a leading pro-democracy organization in the United States — dedicated to the preservation, protection, and defense of democracy.

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