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Why The Wall Street Journal Is Wrong About The 2020 Election

Wisconsin voting booths in 2020
Image CreditU.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Larkin Wilde

The problem is not ‘mass voter fraud,’ but a privately funded ‘shadow campaign’ for Joe Biden within the formal structure of the election system.


A Wall Street Journal editorial appeared on Tuesday entitled, “The Best Summary of the 2020 Election: Rules were bent, GOP voters defected, and real fraud hasn’t turned up.” This conveys the position of many establishment conservatives concerning the 2020 election: There were some slight “problems” with the election that were overshadowed by normal political phenomena such as controversies about Donald Trump and GOP voters switching sides.

The Wall Street Journal begins with the expected anti-Trump admonishment: “At his first big political rally of 2022, President Trump was again focused on 2020. ‘We had a rigged election, and the proof is all over the place,’ [Trump] said. “But Mr. Trump was apparently too busy over Christmas to read a 136-page report by a conservative group in Wisconsin, whose review shows ‘no evidence of widespread voter fraud.’”

This is a lengthy report into allegations of literal “voter fraud” by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), for which they find little corroboration. But there is another side of the argument regarding the legitimacy of the 2020 election that The Wall Street Journal has relentlessly ignored.

The hypothesis is that a deeply corrupted corporate media, Big Tech censorship, legally questionable intervention by the courts, and infiltration of key election offices by lavishly funded Democratic activists resulted in “heavy-handed election interference of a kind we have never seen before” that decisively “rigged” the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden.

The WSJ editorial board would know this if they had read this, this, this, this, this, this, or our work on the role of Big Tech money in Wisconsin’s 2020 election. All of these studies present indisputable evidence of a “rigged election” in Wisconsin and in other key swing states, where the highly partisan distribution of big Center for Tech and Civic Life money, and obvious election interference by CTCL-funded election offices, was more than sufficient to flip those states toward Biden.

Stop Chasing Red Herrings

The WSJ then opines “the stolen-election theory doesn’t hold up [according to the WILL Report]. President Biden won Wisconsin by 20,682 votes, and mass fraud would likely have resulted in some discernible anomaly.” But this is a perfect example of the “red herring” fallacy. The problem is not “mass voter fraud,” but a very “discernible anomaly” involving a highly coordinated and privately funded “shadow campaign” for Biden that took place within the formal structure of the election system.

By injecting more than $419 million of Mark Zuckerberg’s money, laundered through the CTCL and the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), the professional left presided over a targeted, historically unprecedented takeover of government election offices by demonstrably ideological activists and nonprofit organizations in key areas of these swing states. Nothing like this has happened in at least the last 150 years of American elections.

Treating CTCL spending as if it were just another example of one campaign outspending another, or the insidious role of “dark money” in the 2020 election, misses the point entirely. Big CTCL and CEIR money had nothing to do with traditional campaign finance, media buys, lobbying, or Citizens United v. FEC-related campaign finance issues.

It had to do with financing the infiltration of election offices at the city and county level by Democrat activists and using those offices as a platform to implement preferred administrative practices, voting methods, ballot harvesting efforts, and data sharing agreements, as well as to launch intensive multi-media outreach campaigns and surgically targeted, door-to-door get-out-the-vote efforts in areas heavy with Democratic voters.

In Wisconsin and other swing states, big CTCL money introduced structural bias in favor of Biden into the entire 2020 election. This involved favoring certain voters and voting practices over others and disfavoring other classes of voters and voting practices, giving CTCL’s preferred voting methods—especially no-ID absentee ballots—and “New American Majority” voters and voting methods an outsized effect on the final election results. CTCL targeted heavily Democratic jurisdictions for heavy spending, and provided little or no funding to election offices in more Republican-leaning cities and counties.

What’s Wrong With WILL’s Analysis

The WSJ then goes on to cite WILL’s deeply flawed estimate of CTCL’s effects on Wisconsin’s election results in an earlier, self-published study. The editors note: “A nonprofit tied to Mark Zuckerberg gave $10 million to help Wisconsin elections, mostly in five cities, a skewed distribution that WILL finds ‘troubling.’ A statistical analysis suggests it [may have] lifted Mr. Biden’s turnout by 8,000.”

The fundamental problem with WILL’s quantitative analysis is that it is entirely based on the assumption that any “anomalies” in Wisconsin were randomly distributed. They therefore derive their estimates by treating all counties in Wisconsin as if they were all equally affected by CTCL spending, when we know a priori that any such anomalies were limited to a very small set of Wisconsin’s counties, and were the result of deliberate selection of election offices to be heavily funded by the data analysts who determined where big CTCL money would go.

WILL’s estimate of the impact of CTCL activity on Wisconsin’s vote total is therefore based on an inappropriate methodology. It gives rise to the astonishing claim that “In those cities [that received CTCL funding], President Biden received approximately 41 more votes on average.”

But this is absurd on the face of it when excess Biden votes (over Hillary Clinton in 2016) in Brown, Dane, and Milwaukee counties alone were more than 83,000, only about 13,000 of which (at most) can be attributed to population growth or general statewide increases in voter turnout. Are we expected to believe that the effect of CTCL’s $4.79 million spending on Biden’s vote totals in Madison and Milwaukee was “41 votes on average (which would amount to 82 votes in total),” when between Dane (Madison) and Milwaukee counties Biden beat Trump by 364,372 votes? Obviously not.

These two counties alone were responsible for more than 15 times Biden’s margin of victory in Wisconsin, which means Trump won the vote in non-CTCL funded counties by well more than 300,000 votes.

Without CTCL involvement in Wisconsin in 2020, Wisconsin would be a solidly red state. We estimate that CTCL’s investment in seven Wisconsin counties resulted in 65,222 votes for Biden that would not have occurred in CTCL’s absence. That’s more than three times as big as the final 20,800-vote margin between Biden and Trump in 2002. That CTCL-funded election interference so obviously flipped Wisconsin for Biden in 2020 is not merely “troubling,” as WILL alleges. It is outrageous.

The merger of public election offices with partisan private funding that we witnessed in 2020 involved an unprecedented type of election interference that poses an acute threat to the perceived legitimacy of elections. It should be one of the primary focuses of election reform efforts moving forward.

Credible claims supported by growing mountains of evidence of a “rigged election” have largely been ignored by the corporate media in favor of the occasional report that seeks to exonerate an election system that radically failed in November 2020. The 2020 election was not even remotely “fair,” and mainstream conservatives should not be afraid to say so.