Saturday, May 18, 2024

Republicans Lost Because The Message Was Bad

Republicans are all but certain to take the U.S. House of Representatives. But it will be by the narrowest of margins and certainly not the “red wave” most people were expecting.

In addition, Democrats will likely expand their majority in the Senate and increase the number of governorships they control. This was not a good election.

Part one tackled the poor leadership in the GOP. This part will tackle the truly pathetic messaging offered by the Republican Party this election. The third part will tackle the failure of actually campaigning by Republicans. Part four will address the candidate quality issue.

In September of this year, the GOP House leadership released the Commitment to America. The platform had some decent ideas but did you hear about it? The first problem was that the platform should’ve been released much sooner. The second problem was that the platform was largely ignored after the launch event.

Instead, the message turned out to be some variation of “High gas prices. Borders. Inflation. Biden. Bad.” It is not enough to just criticize. You have to offer solutions. Instead, people like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t bother putting forward a legislative agenda. Gee thanks, Mitch.

The problem with not having a strong message is that the message can become diluted. Various factions of the Republican Party then released their midterm platforms. In the end, it contributed to the GOP having no message at all.

The Democrats countered by having what turned out to be a strong message. They focused on the two themes of abortion and “democracy.” Personally, I was very skeptical that such an argument would succeed. I figured that the economy was too poor for this type of message. On their own, I don’t think the message would’ve succeeded.

The reason why the Democrat message worked was because of the lack of a Republican message and it fed into the overall stereotype that many Republicans were just weirdo extremists. Unfortunately, many Republicans who were tied to this line of attack either did not have the resources to respond or simply didn’t take this attack seriously.

But the lack of a positive national message meant that Republican candidates did not have the means to answer some tough questions the voters were asking. Among those questions are “how are you going to stop inflation?” You can’t address the issue if all you’re offering are talking points and just complaining about the problem. Presenting solutions would’ve given an opportunity to change the subject from the Democrat attacks and present yourself as a problem solver meeting the needs of real people.

Another problem in this election is that Democrats won on persuasion. Their base did not come out. Instead, they won by persuading independents and even some Republicans to vote for them. It is embarrassing when non-affiliated voters and even soft Republicans opt for the party that created high inflation, high energy prices, and overall poor governance over the party that could’ve sold itself as a check on all of that. Republicans must do a better job at persuading voters in the middle to vote for them and keeping their base intact.

Democrats won because of a poor to a non-existent message from Republicans. Republicans need to learn that just being against something isn’t enough.