Sorry, Internet, SOPA had zero effect on election day results

lamar smith

Defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was easily the most important political event of the year for the Internet. But it didn’t make much of a difference on election day. Of the 24 House Members up for reelection who co-sponsored or otherwise supported the highly contentious anti-piracy legislation, all but three won reelection on Tuesday. This includes Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, of Texas, SOPA’s author and chief co-sponsor who became the Internet’s Enemy No. 1 after disparaging the SOPA opposition movement late last year.

Even the three Representatives defeated on November 6 – Reps. Joe Baca, Howard Berman, and Mary Bono Mack, all of California – appear to have lost for much more mainstream reasons: things like gun control, budgets, and familiarity with voters. In short, there is little reason to believe that SOPA had any effect whatsoever on the 2012 election – something that seemed unthinkable among the millions Internet activists who helped push SOPA off the table. The backlash against SOPA became so feared in Washington that “getting SOPA’d” became synonymous with a public revolt against particular legislation.

“Nobody wants another SOPA moment,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah told Politico in March. “The nerds are more powerful than anyone thought, and the tech industry flexed its muscle like never before.”

If Tuesday’s election was any indication, all that nerd power is gone. Below is a complete list of how SOPA supporters in Congress fared on election day: 








North Carolina


New York






Correction: An earlier version of this article inadvertently omitted Rep. Howard Berman of California from the count and the list. We have added him.