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An interesting trend seems to be apparent in primaries in 2022 for various offices. It seems like Progressive Democratic primary challengers generally outperform America First Republican primary challengers. There are many examples of America First challengers failing and Progressive ones succeeding.

  1. In Texas's governor race, Greg Abbott won the nomination with 66% of the vote despite being labeled a RINO (Republican In Name Only).
  2. In Georgia, Jody Hice and David Perdue lost their challenges, with Perdue losing by a stinging margin.
  3. In North Carolina, an incumbent America First candidate, Madison Cawthorn, lost his primary presumably because of scandals. No incumbent Progressives came close to losing primaries that I'm aware of.
  4. In the 2022 primaries, in terms of high profile races, every progressive candidate, except for Nina Turner, did not suffer huge losses like America First candidates are so far. Summer Lee, a Progressive narrowly won her primary, and it looks like Jessica Cisneros might as well in a runoff though it seems more likely she narrowly loses.

Why are people challenging from the left winning elections more than right wing ones?

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  • Can you clarify your point about Greg Abbott? I was under the impression he was in the same category as the likes of Perdue and Cawthorn.
    – F1Krazy
    May 26 at 11:23
  • There were even further right challengers like Allen West and Don Huffines. In addition Dan Crenshaw who was attacked for not supporting Trump enough, won renomination/reelection by an even bigger margin than Abbott did. May 26 at 11:25
  • One party has lots of claims around election fraud which could be impacting voters?
    – Joe W
    May 26 at 11:48
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    Greg Abbott a RINO? Not even close. The term RINO was perhaps appropriate during the 1970s and 1980s, when the Republican Party was a "big tent" party. Back then, there were several Republicans from the northeast who would have fit in very nicely in a southern state's Democratic party. Those RINOs have been hunted to extinction. Now the term seems to mean someone who does fully align with MAGA. May 26 at 17:20
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    incumbents have a big advantage. "America First" is a relatively new category of candidate, "progressive" is not. I also fear you're mistaking noise for signal with such a short list of anecdotes. You leave out Greene and Mastriano for example. Such a short list misappropriates local considerations in search of your narrative.
    – dandavis
    May 26 at 20:13

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I'm not sure your implication holds. Let's look at your examples

In Texas's governor race, Greg Abbott won the nomination with 66% of the vote despite being labeled a RINO.

Greg Abbott is both an incumbent and a Republican in a deep Republican state. While he had several challengers, there was never much movement in the non-Abbott vote. Abbott briefly was underwater last year (50-41 disapproval polling), but has been steadily trending back up. Also, it seems like most of those calling him a RINO (Republican In Name Only) were his opponents in the primary.

In Georgia, Jody Hice and David Perdue lost their challenges, with Perdue losing by a stinging margin.

Both of these challenges were spurred on directly on directly by Donald Trump, who openly wanted political revenge for neither Gov. Kemp, or SOS Raffensperger supporting Trump's narrative about the 2020 election being stolen.

The former president has repeatedly attacked Raffensperger, along with Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, for rebuffing his efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in the Peach State in the 2020 presidential election. Both Raffensperger and Kemp notched convincing wins Tuesday even though they drew the former president’s ire, according to NBC.

In North Carolina, an incumbent America First candidate, Madison Cawthorn, lost his primary presumably because of scandals. No incumbent Progressives came close to losing primaries that I'm aware of.

Cawthorn has been embroiled in several scandals

Cawthorn’s electoral prospects had rested on sandy soil for weeks before the election. There were the multiple tickets for speeding and charges of driving with a revoked license, the times he tried to carry a gun onto an airplane, and his claim that he had been invited to an orgy by his colleagues in Washington. Shortly after, there were the photos of him in women’s lingerie; the video of him simulating sex with another man, whom he has referred to as his cousin; the allegations of insider trading and improper relations with one of his staffers; and the time he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.” Kevin McCarthy told Cawthorn that he had lost the House Minority leader’s trust. (Cawthorn declined my request for an interview.)

Such losses are rare

In one sense, he lost narrowly, finishing second to Edwards by about thirteen hundred votes, out of nearly ninety thousand cast. By another measure, the vote was a rare repudiation of a sitting member of Congress. (Over the past half century, more than nine in ten House incumbents have won reëlection.) In his race, sixty-eight per cent of voters chose one of the seven candidates not named Cawthorn.

In the 2022 primaries, in terms of high profile races, every progressive candidate, except for Nina Turner, did not suffer huge losses like America First candidates are so far. Summer Lee, a Progressive narrowly won her primary, and it looks like Jessica Cisneros might as well in a runoff though it seems more likely she narrowly loses.

In general, trying to unseat an incumbent who is not unpopular is fairly hard in both parties. As such, it is less common to see serious primary challenges from within the party. What's made 2022 different is that Donald Trump has inspired a large number of people to make more serious bids against incumbents (with or without any explicit endorsement from him). Conversely, Trump has backed a large number of incumbents who were polling well allowing him to claim his endorsements are meaningful.

But Trump is also promoting more individuals who are aligning with his values who cannot win elections. That is why more primary challengers on the Right are losing.

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