2022 Exposing Extremism in Elections report sheds light on more than 60 extremist-tied candidates on ballots throughout the U.S. ahead of midterms; Florida, Texas and North Carolina among states with highest number
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2022 – The SPLC Action Fund released its first round of research into the 2022 midterm elections in a new report, Exposing Extremism in Elections. The report exposes 66 extremist-tied candidates on ballots throughout the U.S., who are both driving the hard right and threatening our democracy – with its greatest clusters emanating from markets such as Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.
Exposing Extremism in Elections aims to educate the public about political candidates with apparent ties to, or sympathies toward, extremist groups or ideologies. This can take a variety of forms, such as spreading hard right propaganda or expressing sympathetic statements; embracing endorsements from far-right activists; or even being leaders, or members, of hate and extremist groups. Candidates highlighted in the report employ a variety of strategies to influence mainstream society and, once elected, would be able to affect laws and public policy from the inside as a part of the political system.
“In order to understand the threat hate and extremism poses to our communities and our democracy, we must expose the many strategies these groups and movements are using. This trend of more and more hate- and extremist-affiliated candidates running for office brings a certain legitimacy to their cause that isn’t deserved, and it runs the risk of codifying hate in our laws,” said Susan Corke, Director of the Intelligence Project, with the SPLC Action Fund.
“Nothing appears to be off limits with these hard-right extremist candidates. We’ve documented everything from Klan affiliations, to antisemitic and QAnon conspiracies propagandists, to militia leaders. This snapshot into the problem indicates a threat at all levels of our democracy, from local sheriff races to candidates for federal office. It is our hope that concerned voters, community leaders, political parties, public officials, and businesses can learn about the ideology of these candidates and the extremist groups or ideas they associate with – and make more informed decisions at the polls.”
Caleb Kieffer, a Senior Analyst with SPLC Action Fund and the Intelligence Project, said, “Having documented their anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim efforts gain a foothold in the halls of power for decades, it is deeply concerning that so many candidates are affiliated with known hate groups and aligning themselves with extremist ideas.”
The latest Exposing Extremism in Elections report presents the first of a series of interactive visuals and data sets on candidates with apparent ties to, or sympathy toward, extremist groups and ideas, released between April and September 2022. The 66 candidates featured do not represent an exhaustive list – as the report will be updated as new candidates emerge and will configure results from the 2022 primary and general elections.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has long exposed the organizations and individuals that make up the hard right movement in the U.S. Now, the SPLC Action Fund has made this complementary list of the political candidates available to the public to give a full picture of the hard right’s ventures into elected office. The Exposing Extremism in Elections report follows the recent release of the 2021 Year in Hate & Extremism, which also highlights the mainstreaming of hate and extremist rhetoric in America.
Based on the evidence collected, the Intelligence Project team determined whether the candidate’s extremist affiliations met the definition of one of five “relationship type” categories:
- Leader: The candidate is a known leader of an extremist group, chapter or ideological movement.
- Member: The candidate is a known member of an extremist group, chapter or ideological movement.
- Former Member: The candidate is a known former member of an extremist group, chapter or ideological movement (NOTE: This does not refer to reformed extremists).
- Ideological: The candidate is not known to be a member or leader of an extremist group, chapter or ideological movement but their platform, rhetoric and/or behavior demonstrates agreement or alignment with specific extremist ideologies.
- Transactional: The candidate is not known to be a member or leader of an extremist group, chapter or ideological movement and does not have any known extremist views or ideologies; however, the candidate has engaged with an extremist group or ideological movement, potentially to benefit from this association (e.g., to gain votes).