Breaching the Mainstream: A National Survey of Far-Right Membership in State Legislatures

May 13, 2022
  • Description

After insurrectionists tried to overthrow the presidential election on January 6, 2021, small pieces of this puzzle started to emerge. Several state legislators took part in state-level efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 election. A state senator gave full-throated support to white nationalists. Forty-eight state and local officials, including ten sitting state lawmakers, were outed as members of the far-right paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers. These are but a few examples of far-right activism by state legislators.

The depth of far-right activity in state legislatures is still largely unknown. The information to date is fragmented and far from a complete picture.

This report changes that by bringing much-needed context to the national discussion. The IREHR research team reviewed the data of thousands of far-right groups on the Facebook platform and found deepening ties between far-right groups and state legislators.

IREHR researchers identified 875 state legislators serving in the 2021-2022 legislative period and representing all 50 states who have joined at least one of 789 far-right Facebook groups. That is 11.85% of all state legislators in the country.

Given the specific nature of the data used in this report and recognizing that not all far-right aligned legislators belong to Facebook groups, IREHR researchers believe the findings almost certainly understate the breadth of the problem.

Breaching the Mainstream: A National Survey of Far-Right Membership in State Legislatures