Lack of influence means it’s time to dismiss the Lincoln Project

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The two entities that had the worst election night were a.) the pollsters and b.) the Lincoln Project.

Most pollsters forecast a Democratic landslide, including Joe Biden easily taking the White House, the Senate easily flipping to the Democrats and a House with expanded seats for the blue team. 

Instead, the former vice president won three key states (Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia) in razor-thin fashion (by an average of just 0.4 percent of the vote) in getting above the magic number of 270 electoral votes. The Senate, barring a Democratic sweep of two January runoff elections in Georgia, should remain in Republican hands, despite definitive forecast models predicting otherwise. 

Meanwhile, the House saw at least a half-dozen seats flip into GOP hands — resulting in what could possibly be the smallest majority for either party in two decades when all the races are called. 

But nothing compares to the record of the #NeverTrumpers at the Lincoln Project, the New York Jets of political action committees that attracts tons of broadcast and social media attention based almost solely on its ability to troll in the most self-righteous (and self-serving) ways. Part of that attention included a profile last month on the highest-rated broadcast news magazine in the country, the venerable “60 Minutes” on CBS

The #NeverTrump group includes former 2008 McCain presidential campaign manager Steve Schmidt, “Republican strategist” Rick Wilson and George Conway, the husband of former Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Overall, the group spent more than $67 million in an attempt to impact various 2020 races. 

Result: President Trump received more votes than any Republican in history, amassing more than 73 million votes and breaking the previous GOP record he set in 2016. As far as biting into Trump’s base, which apparently was the “Republican” group’s core mission, the president received support from 91 percent of Republicans, according to a Fox News voter analysis, up from four years ago. Whoops. 

But the real failure occurred in the Senate results, where the Lincoln Project threw $12 million at seven Democratic candidates in key races in an effort to flip the chamber back to the Democrats. Final score on that front: Republicans 7, Democrats 0. 

Those targeted by the group included Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who won by 9 points despite no polls showing her ahead on Election Day. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also was a rich target for the Lincoln Project and was said to be in trouble; he won by almost 10 points.  

In Alaska, the Lincoln Project spent $4.3 million to defeat Sen. Dan Sullivan, another incumbent Republican. He also won by double digits.

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a big focus of the Lincoln Project, too, helping to fuel hopeful media reports that the Senate majority leader was in trouble. He won by 20 points. 

Since the election, the Lincoln Project has been going after law firms such as Jones Day, which the group alleges is representing the Trump campaign in its voter-fraud lawsuit in Pennsylvania. And “going after” in this case means tweeting phone numbers, email addresses and photos of lead attorneys at law firm Porter Wright, Ronald Hicks and Carolyn McGee to the project’s more than 2.7 million followers. The firm has since withdrawn from the case filed on behalf of Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania.

Fortunately, Twitter forced the group to delete the tweet, but not before the damage was done. 

Jones Day clarified exactly who it is representing in a Wednesday statement while scolding the media for following the Lincoln Project’s lead without naming the group directly. 

“Jones Day is not representing President Trump, his campaign, or any affiliated party in any litigation alleging voter fraud,” the firm’s statement reads. “Jones Day also is not representing any entity in any litigation challenging or contesting the results of the 2020 general election. Media reports to the contrary are false. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania, through Jones Day, has sought review in the United States Supreme Court on the ground that the order is unconstitutional because it usurped the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s plenary authority to determine election procedures including the deadline for absentee ballots. 

“Jones Day will not withdraw from that representation.” 

These kinds of tactics are targeted harassment that, given the temperature of the country, could potentially lead to these attorneys being harmed or worse. No matter: The Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson vowed to take matters a step further, inciting harassment of more people outside of Jones Day. “If you’re out there supporting lies about the electoral process, then there’s a chance that we are going to take a look at you,” Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen told Newsweek on Wednesday.   

One would think that media members far and wide would condemn this kind of incitement, but nope. Because Trump and/or Republicans are ultimately the target, it’s an accepted means to an end. 

In the end, the Lincoln Project – despite tens of millions of dollars spent on races across the country – missed its marks by a country mile. One would think the TV outlets that continue to prop up its founders and allies, portraying them as having an impact on the political world, would stop booking them. One would also think that, given its unethical behavior, the Jets of 2020 politics would be dismissed outright. 

One would think. But this is 2020, when unity is preached but division always plays.  

The good news is that, without President Trump to raise money off of, groups like the Lincoln Project may lose their biggest foil, their central antagonist and, therefore, their reason for existing.

Good — because the country will be better off for it. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.

Tags 2020 election Dan Sullivan Donald Trump Donald Trump George Conway Joe Biden Jones Day Kellyanne Conway Lincoln Project Lincoln Project Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Never Trump movement Republican Party Susan Collins United States presidential election

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