Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel recently highlighted polling that shows how Republicans can still win this November. The polling included a survey of likely general election voters in the 41 most competitive Republican-held Congressional races. The data reveals the challenges and messaging opportunities Republicans face heading into elections this year. The key is to persuade swing district voters by defending the tax cuts and making them permanent.
To view a summary of the survey, click here.
An excerpt of Strassel’s column is included below. You can read the piece in its entirety here.
How Republicans Could Still Win: A forthcoming poll suggests ways they can persuade voters in swing districts.
The Wall Street Journal
September 13, 2018
This was a week of gloomy midterm polls for the Republican Party, with a wave of results projecting a Democratic takeover of the House and maybe even the Senate. But not all polls are created equal. If Republicans bother to read just one, it should be a yet-unreleased survey that tells a more nuanced story.
The data come courtesy of the Club for Growth, a conservative outfit that plays to win. The Club’s donors expect it to place smart bets in elections, which it can’t do if it relies on feel-good data. …
Bottom line: Many of these races are winnable—if Republicans have the courage of their convictions and get smarter in tailoring their messages to voters.
. . .
… Republicans still hold a 3-point lead on the generic ballot in these districts, meaning they have a real chance if they get their likely voters out. An even bigger opening: Approximately 25% of those polled remain “persuadable” to vote Republican—if they hear the right things.
The difficulty is that different voters want to hear different things. Republicans have been touting their tax cuts and the economy, and they should. But the Club’s data make clear that uncommitted voters want more than past achievements, or a scary picture of Nancy Pelosi, or excuses for Mr. Trump. They want promises for the future. And yes, they remain wary that Democrats will reverse particular economic reforms.
Which is why the message that resonates most strongly by far with persuadable voters is a Republican promise that they will make permanent last year’s middle-class tax cuts. . .
Likewise, Republicans have an opportunity in highlighting the left’s more doolally ideas. Uncommitted voters reacted strongly against Democrats’ calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and strongly in favor of GOP promises to defund “sanctuary” cities and states, which refuse to follow immigration law. These were top messages for those crucial suburban voters, who have watched in alarm as urban violence creeps into their neighborhoods. (Interestingly, the other top suburban message was repealing ObamaCare.)
As for the Republican base, the poll finds they are driven most by Democrats’ threats to the presidency, the economy and constitutional rights. They will be inspired by Republicans who promise to protect the Second Amendment. They are likewise stirred by promises to defend Mr. Trump from the partisan impeachment effort that would inevitably accompany Democratic House control. And they want to hear Republicans vow to guard against intrusive and specific Democratic job-killing proposals—a $15-an-hour minimum wage, regulations on autos and drinking straws, government health care, etc.
. . .
So the trick for Republicans is to target different microcosms of their districts, tailoring their messages via digital marketing, calls, mailings and events. Some issues, like taxes, resonate everywhere, but for the most part the emphasis and message needs to be entirely different depending on block-by-block geography.
That’s doable, though it breaks with the usual mentality that elections are one thing or another—a positive or a negative campaign, a referendum or a choice. Elections during the Trump presidency, like the presidency itself, will be messy. Republicans who are willing to embrace that mess still have a shot.