In Arizona 2020 Election Review, Risks for Republicans, and Democracy

Karen Fann, president of the Arizona Senate last year. She said the purpose of the review was to address concerns of Trump voters that the election had been stolen. /Credit…Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Experts call it a circus. Polls say it will hurt the G.O.P. in 2022. But Republicans are on board in Arizona and elsewhere, despite warnings of lasting damage to the political system.

By Michael Wines | The New York Times

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Rob Goins is 57, a former Marine and a lifelong Republican in a right-leaning jigsaw of golf courses, strip malls and gated retirement communities pieced together in the Arizona desert. But ask about the Republican-backed review of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s 2020 election victory here in Maricopa County, and Mr. Goins rejects the party line.

“There’s a lot of folks out there trying to make something out of nothing,” he said recently as he loaded purchases into his vehicle outside a Home Depot. “I don’t think there was any fraud. My opinion of this is that it’s a big lie.”

Mr. Goins is flesh-and-blood evidence of what political analysts here are all but shouting: The Republican State Senate’s autopsy of the 2020 vote, broadly seen as a shambolic, partisan effort to nurse grievances about Donald J. Trump’s loss here in November, risks driving away some of the very people the party needs to win statewide elections in 2022.

That Arizona Republicans are ignoring that message — and that Republicans in other states are now trying to mount their own Arizona-style audits — raises worrisome questions not just about their strategy, but about its impact on an American democracy facing fundamental threats.

Now in its seventh week, the review of 2.1 million votes in Arizona’s most populous county has ballooned not just into a national political spectacle, but also a political windsock for the Republican Party — an early test of how its renewed subservience to Mr. Trump would play with voters.

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