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What midterm victories mean for Moore v. Harper’s attack on democracy

The Supreme Court will decide Moore v. Harper, a case that could destroy American democracy, in a matter of months. It’s a case that started in North Carolina, where rightwing state lawmakers are arguing that they have complete, unchecked control over federal elections. They’re basing their argument on the Independent State Legislature Doctrine — or ISL for short — the same fraudulent, fringe Constitutional theory that Trump attempted to use to overturn the 2020 election.

When Trump called for Pence to send the election results ‘back to the states’, this is what he was attempting to pull off. Trump and his allies had identified key states where Republicans held the majority. And he put immense pressure on those state lawmakers to illegally hand him electors that he knew Biden won.

So why didn’t he succeed?

As Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers told the January 6th Select Committee, some Republicans refused to go along with Trump’s plan because there was no legal ground for them to overturn rightful election results. But Moore v. Harper could change that.

Our Plan to Protect Democracy: The Path to 270 Protecting the Path to 270

For more than two years, The States Project has shaped our electoral work around building pro-democracy majorities to secure our freedom to vote in free and fair elections. We created a strategic, targeted, and achievable plan of action to build pro-democracy majorities in key state legislatures. Our ultimate goal is protecting the path to 270 electoral votes — the number of votes needed to uphold rightful, valid election results.

The good news is that historic midterm victories fueled by The States Project’s community have put us in a much stronger position to defend valid election results in 2024. But there is still work to be done to shore up our democracy.

Here’s where our state-by-state strategy stands following the November elections:

MICHIGAN:

In Michigan, while other groups focused on just holding ground in the House, we saw a path to winning the majority in both chambers, and funded those races accordingly. We successfully helped flip both chambers, building a new trifecta in Lansing for the first time in nearly 40 years — and ensuring the state’s 15 electoral votes will go to the presidential candidate that voters select in 2024.

PENNSYLVANIA:

Because lawmakers can take office in Pennsylvania before the presidential-safe harbor deadline,  we knew that we needed to make progress this November toward governing control in the House by 2024. After all the votes were counted, we gained 12 seats to shift the balance of power in the chamber, achieving a goal we’d given ourselves two cycles to meet. But with a one-seat majority, losing even one seat would shift the balance of power back to the rightwing — a very real risk given multiple upcoming special elections for vacant House seats. It will be critical to protect this chamber to ensure that in 2024, pro-democracy lawmakers in the House can direct the state’s 19 electoral votes to the presidential candidate that voters choose.

ARIZONA:

The rightwing held narrow, one-seat majorities in both Arizona chambers heading into what we expected to be a tough year. That’s why our goal was to hold ground — to keep the margins close enough to give our democracy a fighting chance should radical, anti-democracy state lawmakers attempt to interfere with the state’s 11 electoral votes in 2024. As the top contributor to Arizona campaigns, we’re proud to say we achieved that goal.

NEBRASKA:

One-third of the legislature can block emergency policies from being enacted in Nebraska. That’s why we focused on defending the 17 seats that pro-democracy lawmakers held going into Election Day. Our work to prevent a supermajority means those lawmakers can protect a single electoral vote in a purple district from being stolen in a narrow presidential race.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

In the Granite State, where lawmakers also take office before the presidential safe-harbor deadline, we knew we had to win power in the legislature by 2024. After recounts in several extremely tight races, we came within 13 votes across three seats of gaining governing control in the New Hampshire House. With these razor-thin margins, we’ve made tremendous progress toward winning the chamber in 2024 to protect the state’s 4 electoral votes. 


Before the elections, we could count on protecting 227 electoral votes in the 2024 presidential elections. We’ve secured 34 electoral votes with new governing power in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Close results in Arizona and New Hampshire could protect another 15 electoral votes.

The bottom line? Between states with safe pro-democracy majorities and the new pro-democracy majorities we helped build in swing states, we’re in a much better position to help ensure that electoral votes in key states will safely go to the candidate that voters select in 2024.

But we cannot protect our democracy with work in just one election. And that’s why our work between now and Election Day 2024 will focus on protecting and expanding the majorities we helped build while building new pro-democracy majorities in more states where we see a path to preserving the voices of voters in our elections.

We cannot control how the Supreme Court rules on Moore v. Harper. But we can build power for state lawmakers who will defend our voices and our votes, no matter what the court decides. If you want to defend our democracy, work with us in the states.