The list included in this Policy Brief shows the election victories and losses for a selection of socialist and far-left progressive candidates running for office during the 2022 midterm election. The list was created by a team of researchers from the Socialism Research Center at The Heartland Institute, a national free-market think tank.
How We Define ‘Socialist’ and ‘Progressive’ Candidates
This list includes candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and state-level public offices endorsed by Our Revolution, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and/or the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). All three of this organizations openly advocate for overtly socialist policies and causes.
Our Revolution is a nonprofit organization advocating for the policy agenda of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-described socialist. Our Revolution supports socialist policies such as single-payer health care and the Green New Deal as core elements of its policy agenda.[i]
DSA is the largest socialist organization (not a political party) in the United States. According to DSA’s website, “We are activists committed to democracy as not simply one of our political values but our means of restructuring society… We call this vision democratic socialism—a vision of a more free, democratic, and humane society. We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.”[ii]
PDA is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and the United States by promoting far-left policies throughout the United States.[iii] PDA supports, among other policies, a national government-managed health care system (Medicare for All), progressive taxes, abolishing immigration enforcement and granting full citizenship to all undocumented persons in the United States, canceling all student loan debt, increasing the minimum wage, supporting labor unions, and transitioning to a fossil fuel-free energy system.
The biggest takeaway from our research is that the far-left progressive and socialist wings of the Democratic Party continue to gain significant ground at both the federal and state levels of government, following similar trends from 2018 and 2020.
Our full list includes 132 elections in 26 states. We tracked 78 state-level positions, 50 U.S. House seats, and four U.S. Senate seats. We discovered socialist or progressive candidates won 120 of those races and lost only 12, a win percentage of 91 percent for socialist candidates.
If uncontested races and losses are excluded, socialist or far-left progressive candidates won by an average of more than 30 percentage points. This clearly indicates socialist and progressive groups targeted districts they assumed Democrats would win in the general election, rather than sponsoring candidates and investing resources in elections that would be more difficult to win during the general election. In the 12 races socialist candidates lost, their margin of defeat (-9.8 percent) was more than three times less than the aforementioned margin of victory.
The Socialism Research Center conducted similar analyses in 2018 and 2020, and the results in the 2022 election show a similar trend. In 2018, we identified 86 progressive and socialist candidates. They won fewer than 40 percent of their races, with slim margins of victory in several highly contested races. [iv] In 2020, we identified 266 progressive and socialist candidates, approximately three times the amount as in 2018. These candidates won more than 90 percent of their races with an average margin of victory of more than 25 percentage points, an astounding increase over a two-year period. [v]
Though we identified fewer candidates in 2022, the socialist win percentage remained steady, at more than 90 percent, and the average margin of victory increased by more than five percentage points. This clearly indicates that socialists continue to reap great rewards at the ballot box, and that socialist organizations are pragmatically targeting Democratic bastions to replace “establishment” Democrats with radical socialists.
For the line-by-line data, please refer to the policy brief on Heartland.org.
 It should be noted that we have counted Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) race against Herschel Walker as a socialist victory, as Warnock finished higher than Walker. However, this race will not officially be concluded until the December 2020 run-off election.
[iv] Justin Haskins, “How Did Socialists Perform in 2018 Midterm Elections? Better Than You Might Think,” Stopping Socialism, December 1, 2018, https://stoppingsocialism.com/2018/12/how-did-socialists-perform-in-2018-midterm-elections-better-than-you-might-think
[v] Justin Haskins and Chris Talgo, “Socialist Watch 2020: An Analysis of Candidates Endorsed by Far-Left Organizations,” The Heartland Institute, Policy Brief, November 2020, https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/policy-brief-socialist-watch-2020-an-analysis-of-candidates–endorsed-by-far-left-organizations