Kiev, Ukraine – Comparing the results to what pollsters had predicted in the lead up to Election Day, politicans and journalists have generally concluded that, with few exceptions, Republicans outperformed expectations by several percentage points.
As CNN’s Jake Tapper said during the network’s live coverage of the election, “It’s like, again, there were thousands upon thousands of Republican voters who weren’t getting counted by pollsters. When those voters showed up at the poll, the predictions melted away.”
Democrats have blamed gerrymandering, pointing to how they cast votes at a clip seven percent higher than Republicans across the country in 2018’s election cycle, but only gained two dozen seats in the House of Representatives.
Election experts blamed voter suppression, confusion, and logistical problems at the polls, which extended lines and frustrated voters, particularly in Democrat-leaning parts of the country.
But no one blamed Visolyev Krustchevzsky, the Russian hacker operating out of Kiev, Ukraine.
“Yep, that was me,” he smiled. “I am… how do you say… guilty as charged.”
Mr. Krustchevzsky, along with three other online Russian-based operatives, gained access to American voting machines as early as April in anticipation for the midterm elections.
“We were given much time to break in,” Krustchevzsky recalls. “But it only took one, two days. The security was like a welcome mat.”
Once inside, the hackers added code to the infected ballot machines that gave votes to Republicans.
“It was twenty, maybe thirty lines of code. It gave Republicans three, maybe four percent.”
The pattern was pervasive across the country.
In Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, for example, Republican Andy Barr and Democrat Amy McGrath had been polling dead even, just days before the election. During the election, though, McGrath lost by three points.
Not every single district was targeted, though. Some Republicans that had raised the ire of Presidents Trump and Putin – like Virginia’s Dave Brat – were left with zero Russian support or even a tilt the other way.
Brat, who had been predicted to win reelection in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by one point, lost to challenger Abigail Spanberger by two.
“Three points was the normal,” Krustchevzsky admitted. “There were some that got some… shall we say… extra favors, though.”
In Montana’s sole district for the House, Republican, Trump favorite, and amateur bodyslammer Greg Gianforte had been polling neck and neck with Democrat Kathleen Williams in the month before Election Day. When polls closed, though Gianforte had a nine point lead.
In the Missouri Senate election between Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley – a race that President Trump took special interest in – polls had been ranging from a two-point Republican win to a two-point Democrat hold. When voting ended though, the Republicans had scored a major victory, with Hawley winning by ten points.
Krustchevzsky leaned back in his chair and rested his head in his hands. “We… how do you say it… put our thumbs on the scale.”