The Republican Party of New Mexico blamed GOP congressional candidate Mark Moores’ loss in a Tuesday special election on “low voter turnout” sparked by “angry” Republican voters who “questioned election integrity,” in an email sent on Thursday.
If that were true, the party would only have themselves to blame.
After the 2020 election, the state GOP echoed former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud after the election. State party leaders also claimed that Trump lost New Mexico by nearly 11% solely due to fraud. (There was no widespread voter fraud in New Mexico or any other state.)
They claimed, incorrectly, that votes appeared out of nowhere and that Republican observers were not allowed to watch post-election canvasses. Neither of these were true. The party sued to invalidate the state’s results after state electors voted for Biden, the winner of the state’s popular vote, on Dec. 14. The lawsuit was dismissed.
Even after the Trump-inspired riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the party endorsed legislation introduced by a state GOP legislator to disenfranchise the 500,000-plus New Mexicans who voted for President Joe Biden and award the state to Trump. Since the New Mexico legislature and governor’s mansion are controlled by Democrats, the bill went nowhere.
The party remains under the control of proponents of the stolen election myth that propelled the riot and continues to justify the GOP’s swing against democracy.
“Our democracy has been tarnished,” New Mexico GOP chair Steve Pearce, a former congressman, said after the Jan. 6 attack, by “anomalies and issues that were never addressed.”
Moores lost the special election to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to Democrat Melanie Stansbury by a nearly 25-point margin. The voter turnout was less than half of the 2020 general election. But significantly lower turnout is normal for a special election.
The voter turnout drop-off for Republicans was more pronounced than the drop-off for Democrats. Stansbury received 42% of the vote total that Haaland received in 2020, while Moores got 34% of the votes of 2020 GOP candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes.
There is, however, no direct evidence that Republicans stayed home because they believed that the election would be stolen and their votes wouldn’t count.
Perhaps the best explanation for the Republicans’ loss is that their candidates lost this seat by double-digits in five straight elections as the district swung further toward Democrats. Also, the national Democratic Party sent resources and high profile surrogates to help Stansbury win while the national Republican Party stayed out of the race entirely.
But the stolen election myth offers a better salve. Those who “stole the election” also stole the will of Republican voters. The blame for losing this election then lies at the feet of the mythical election thieves and not the underfunded candidate running in a district tilting heavily against their party. The party is absolved of all responsibility.