In 2019, state party leaders canceled Republican caucuses and primaries, virtually eliminating any possibility for a GOP challenger to wage a serious campaign against Trump.1
In Trump’s bid to overturn the election results, GOP state legislators, local and state party officials and GOP state attorneys general were often enthusiastically supporting his moves, while Republicans such as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell generally didn’t condemn the effort but didn’t openly embrace it either.
“The state level is where we see the most important democratic backsliding, and it’s happening at the behest of Republican state officials,” said Jake Grumbach, a political scientist at the University of Washington who studies state politics. According to an analysis by Grumbach, the greatest predictor of whether a state has taken antidemocratic steps, such as really aggressive gerrymandering or efforts to make it harder for people to vote, is if Republicans control its state legislature and governor’s office.
U.S. states are increasingly not “laboratories of democracy,” Grumbach said, but “laboratories of democratic backsliding.”