Where Does Democracy Stand?

March 26, 2023

While 2022 voters were largely motivated to protect democracy, election denialism still runs deep. Election reforms provide hope for reduced extremism.

Impact of Electoral Reform on Denier Win Rates

The 2020 election made clear the existential threats to American democracy. The 2022 midterms were the first opportunity to study how these threats may motivate voters in future elections.

Citizen Data studied voters nationwide and in battleground states to better understand where they stand on election denialism and how reforms might offer a solution. For a complete look at our research into the 2022 midterms, check out our recently released Political Impact Report.

1. Protecting Democracy was a Priority

In battleground states, 29–36% of voters indicated that protecting elections from attempts to overturn the results was a top-3 issue.

"Protecting elections from partisan attempts at overturning the results" ranked as a top issue in battleground states.

Relatedly, in Arizona, we found that preventing a repeat of January 6th was a top-3 issue among 24.2% of ticket-splitters and 20.9% among ticket-splitting Republicans in the razor-tight gubernatorial race.

2. Election Denialism Still Runs Deep

While election deniers lost most of the headline races in 2022 battleground states, they did cruise to victory in many lower-profile congressional elections.

Roughly a third of state-level office winners — and nearly half of the congressional winners — were election deniers.

General Election Winners Who Were Deniers

3. Democracy Reforms Can Help

Among the four states that have implemented major electoral reform, such as top-2 open primaries (CA and WA), top-4 open primaries with ranked-choice voting (AK) and ranked-choice voting (ME), only 15% of general election winners were election deniers compared to 44% nationwide.

Impact of Electoral Reform on Denier Win Rates

For more insights and findings, download the preview of our 2022 Political Impact Report.


Protecting democracy is a winning issue that voters care about, and electoral reforms can help to achieve it. To better engage with voters on these topics, follow our 5M method:

  1. Identify and target pro-democracy voters who are most likely to engage on these topics using Citizen’s modeled segments, such as our Democracy Defenders;
  2. Conduct message tests to develop a strategy that links protecting democracy and electoral reform together; and
  3. Execute research experiments to determine who is best to deliver those messages and where to reach your audience with them.

Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about any of the action items above. Enjoy Citizen’s Data for Democracy series? You can find past installments here.

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Updates to Citizen Data’s Playbook for Trusted Elections

Additional research conducted in November 2022 provides insight into the best ways to counter disinformation and rebuild election trust.