- When the “red wave” failed to materialize, the MAGA internet erupted.
- Many far-right commentators declared some elections were fraudulent.
- Other internet users insisted that the party leave Trump behind and rally around Ron DeSantis.
Many pundits and politicians predicted the 2022 US midterm elections would be a “red wave” or even a “red tsunami,” but as the results finalize, it’s looking like GOP candidates underperformed. In particular, multiple far-right, Trump-endorsed candidates lost their elections, while MAGA favorites like Rep. Lauren Boebert and Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake are in too-close-to-call races they could easily lose.
The MAGA internet — some of which began declaring that elections were fraudulent even before the polls closed on Tuesday — is in meltdown mode over the midterm elections. Even some of the most typically fiery Trump allies, including former Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway, admitted that the results were disappointing.
Far-right users with large followings on Telegram were quick to falsely declare the elections rigged on Tuesday night as vote totals started coming through, and have continued to spread conspiracy theories about the vote. Much of the conservative outcry surrounded John Fetterman’s victory over the Trump-backed candidate Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, which flipped the senate seat from Republican to Democrat.
“Fetterman? Really?” a QAnon influencer with over 220,000 Telegram followers wrote in a post baselessly claiming that the elections were rigged. “Not even remotely believable, even for normies.”
Maricopa County in Arizona was a hotspot for baseless election fraud claims early on Tuesday, and that continued Wednesday as Lake’s numbers hovered below that of her opponent, Katie Hobbs. One QAnon user with over 15,000 Telegram followers wrote Wednesday that they believed Lake would clinch the seat despite “heavy cheating,” while far-right influencer BioClandestine baselessly called Arizona “ground zero for voter fraud” in a thread about Lake’s race.
A popular far-right user that runs a Trump-supporting parody account wrote a vague message to their 200,000 Telegram followers on Wednesday calling for “jail” and a “quick trial” for all election riggers, without providing any evidence of fraud. Conspiracist Lin Wood, who worked as a pro-Trump attorney in the former president’s battle to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, also wrote a message on Tuesday night urging his 475,000 Telegram followers to “keep fighting to end rigged elections.”
Corners of the conservative internet rally around DeSantis
The Reddit page for conservatives, which has over one million members, was flooded with anxious and disappointed users following Tuesday’s vote. Some on the subreddit argued that the red wave flopped because Republicans rallied around poor candidate choices like Georgia senate candidate Herschel Walker and Oz. Others insisted that the party needs to move beyond Trump and support politicians like Ron DeSantis, who was reelected as Florida’s governor in one of the GOP’s strongest victories on Tuesday.
In response to the backlash against Trump, some far-right influencers rushed quickly to argue that his sway over voters remains as powerful as before. Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia appeared on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” broadcast to claim that people who blame Trump have a “lazy, pathetic, wimpy, easy mindset.”
Meanwhile, on a fringe forum for Trump supporters, some users called for the military to intervene and baselessly claimed that multiple states’ elections were “obviously rigged.”
Although there was much talk of doom and propagation of conspiracy theories across the far-right sphere, some influential Republican commentators and politicians tried to frame the results as a win for conservatives.
Trump wrote on Truth Social Wednesday that the results were “somewhat disappointing” but said he personally considered it a “very big victory.” The previous day before the polls closed, he wrote multiple posts claiming and insinuating that elections in multiple states were being rigged.