To persuade rich liberals to keep writing checks, disgraced super PAC behind neo-Nazi cosplay stunt must prove it can actually win elections
“It’s a bad day to be @ProjectLincoln,” wrote Winsome Sears’s campaign team after the candidate made history as the first woman of color elected to a statewide office in Virginia. She will serve as lieutenant governor alongside Republican governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and Jason Miyares, the first Hispanic American to serve as state attorney general.
The Lincoln Project, a disgraced super PAC, had done its best to ensure that Sears and her fellow Republicans would lose, in part by paying a bunch of Democratic operatives to dress up as neo-Nazis and hold tiki torches in the pouring rain. It was one of the most pathetic political stunts in recent memory. “We’re coming for you, Glenn Youngkin,” the Lincoln Project tweeted in late September. Nevertheless, the GOP candidates scored improbable victories in an increasingly solid blue state that voted for President Joe Biden by more than 10 percentage points.
It was a bad day to be the Lincoln Project, and the situation is unlikely to improve heading into the 2022 midterms. The super PAC had little to show for the $324,773 it spent on the Virginia election, the majority of which went toward anti-Youngkin attack ads. The Lincoln Project, which has faced criticism for its shady financial practices and was described by founding member Steve Schmidt as a vehicle for “generational wealth,” spent more than $88,000—nearly a third of its total spending in Virginia—on production or other administration costs.
Come to think of it, the Lincoln Project has little to show for the nearly $100 million it raised during the 2020 election cycle. Its founders claimed responsibility for Donald Trump’s defeat, but the super PAC’s performance in other races suggests it is far more successful at electing Republicans than it is at defeating them. For example, the group spent almost $12 million in an effort to defeat the GOP candidates running in seven key Senate races. Democrats lost every single one, in some cases by double-digit margins.
The Lincoln Project’s track record, and the prevailing political environment heading into the 2022 midterms, suggests the super PAC is unlikely to enjoy much success in the near future, at least in terms of winning elections for Democrats. In terms of enriching themselves and paying off their massive debts, the group’s founders will be just fine so long as they can persuade rich liberals to keep writing checks.
Potential donors might not be thrilled by the group’s childish tactics in Virginia, much less its inability to beat Republicans. Recent contributors to the super PAC, which has been credibly accused of enabling the sexually inappropriate behavior of cofounder John Weaver, include the liberal philanthropist Martha Karsh, wife of billionaire Bruce Karsh, and John Driscoll, a health care tycoon and member of the “Patriotic Millionaires.” Rich libs have continued to donate despite criticism from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), who described the super PAC as a “scam.”
Like most Democratic-aligned institutions, the Lincoln Project’s relevance has faded significantly in the absence of Trump. As reported in the Washington Free Beacon, the group’s online footprint has been shrinking rapidly in the post-Trump media environment. According to a social media analysis, the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been shedding followers by the thousands since Biden was sworn in earlier this year. The Lincoln Project podcast ranks a disappointing 24th among Apple politics programs.
According to the social media monitoring tool Awario, online sentiment about the Lincoln Project reflects a widespread public disdain for the super PAC. Across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, and Instagram, the social media sentiment, as measured by Awario, is 51 percent negative and only 5 percent positive.
A separate analysis found that 100 percent of the Lincoln Project’s remaining founders—the ones who weren’t ousted for sexually inappropriate behavior or resigned before suggesting the super PAC be shut down—are bald weirdos.