Republicans are still assessing what lessons they should take from the midterm elections. Last week I listed six. Here are four more.
Lesson #7: Limit complaints about media coverage to censorship against Republicans. Call the censorship “a threat to democracy.”
The irony is that Democrats have demonstrated fascist behavior themselves. It won’t get noticed until Republicans stop scaring voters, but there is an area where Democrats are most guilty and vulnerable.
Instead of complaining about everything the media does, limit the focus to instances such as when they censor stories (Hunter’s laptop), remove a prominent public figure from social media (Trump), shout a conservative out of a public forum, and call them threats to democracy.
When Democrats don’t like what the opposition says, they call it disinformation, and they’ve gone to great lengths to do so.
If they claim they are removing disinformation, we must remind them of Biden’s “Disinformation Governance Board,” aka “The Ministry of Truth,” which also is a “threat to democracy, and precisely what fascist and totalitarian governments do.
Lesson #8: Nothing scares independents more than Donald Trump. It’s time to move on.
I know this point will be controversial. Trump has an extremely loyal core audience of adoring fans who believe he is the greatest president ever. His election in 2016 is one of the most extraordinary political stories ever. I’ve defended Trump through two impeachments, the 2020 election, January 6th and everything in between. The midterm 2022 elections is where I hop off, and the Party needs to too.
Republicans lost in 2018, ‘20, and ‘22 by following him – not because of election fraud.
Trump handpicked candidates based on their fealty to him, and the GOP ended up with fundamentally flawed candidates in places eminently winnable. His PAC spent $14 million, while Mitch McConnell’s PAC spent $232 to support Trump’s candidates. When he made campaign appearances, they were mainly to promote himself.
He constantly breaks Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of fellow Republicans. Trump causes dissension within the Party. Republicans don’t need a repeat of the 2016 primaries, with Trump running a scorched Earth campaign against a field of promising candidates.
Trump is incapable of change. I could go on about why it’s time to move on, but everybody but his core supporters understand. This group won’t give up and will hold on, but their numbers keep getting smaller.
Since initially writing these ten lessons, Trump became the first to enter the 2024 presidential race officially. His action has many implications. The first is that if Herschel Walker had any chance of winning the Senate Runoff in Georgia, now it is gone.
Lesson #9: The Republican issue on abortion is a losing position. Pursuing policies restricting abortion in the first approximately 20 weeks (could be 18, might 22) will continue to cause Republicans to lose elections.
For people in the pro-life movement, abortion is not a political issue. They would rather lose than give up on what they believe is the most critical moral issue of our lifetime. I understand their views and don’t expect them to change.
Last August, the first column I wrote for Broad and Liberty was titled: “Good Law, Bad Policy.” The impact of the Dobbs decisions and the end of Roe concerned me at the time.
The exit polls showed 60 percent believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37 percent think it should be illegal in all or most cases. Further, sixteen percent of respondents were enthusiastic about the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, compared to 39 percent who were angry about it.
States that have tried to pass referendums restricting abortion rights have all seen them go down. All state referendums codifying abortion rights have been successful. States with referendums include Kansas and Kentucky.
In addition, Republican state legislative chambers in Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were lost this cycle – each for the first time in ages. Be sure each will strengthen abortion rights. Michigan voters passed a midterm referendum that made abortion a right in the state’s constitution.
Democrats had a monstrous night in Michigan because of the referendum. You can bet they will try to put an abortion referendum on numerous state ballots in 2024.
Pollsters missed the importance abortion would play in the midterms. When asked in the exit polls what issue mattered most when deciding how they voted, inflation led with 31 percent, followed by abortion with 27 percent. The next highest issue fell to eleven percent.
Some candidates who are pro-life people won, just as some of Trump’s candidates won. However, it is undeniable that the abortion issue hurt Republicans far more than it helped. The Dobbs decision and reversal of Roe were critical to Democrats beating the odds that the president’s Party always faces during midterm elections.
Lesson #10: Polling may not be “irrevocably broken,” but it needs rethinking.
My election night analysis stated that “polling is irrevocably broken.” My friend, Larry Rosin, President, and co-founder of Edison Research, which conducts the exit polls and vote count for the National Election Pool (used by ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC), sent me a message pointing out that not all pollsters got it wrong.
For example, The Marist Poll was pretty good:
Final Marist Poll of Georgia – Warnock: 48, Walker: 48. Actual Warnock: 49.4, Walker: 48.5
Final Marist Poll of Pennsylvania – Fetterman 51, Oz 45. Actual Fetterman: 51, Oz: 46.5
Final Marist Poll national (House) – R: 49, D 46: Actual (with votes still outstanding R:51.2, D:46.9.
I never used any one poll or even the average from one of the aggregate sources. I used RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight and tried to add and subtract polls according to relevant information. I tried to account for the bias various pollsters have demonstrated over the past.
I intend to create a Pollster Report card, which I look forward to sharing.
However, polling needs to follow the new rules of Election Season too. In addition to proper demographics and getting the right mix of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Pollsters must start accounting for the number of people who vote by mail, in person early, and on Election Day. Otherwise, their models are wrong, as will their predictions.
Regardless, both Republicans and Democrats are going to be skeptical of polls moving forward.
These are ten lessons that Republicans must adopt now. Several will be both difficult and controversial. Intra-party battles have already begun over House and Senate leadership. The abortion issue could fracture the coalition that has made up the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan became its leader.
Donald Trump has created factions since he rode down the golden escalator in Trump Tower in 2015. It is still possible for him to get the Republican nomination in another over-crowded primary field. It would lead to an electoral wipe-out. He could also run as an independent with an equally calamitous result.
If Republicans fail to learn the obvious lessons from the 2022 midterms and then waste time with internal squabbles, the Party could spend a long time in the wilderness. That would allow an increasingly elitist, leftist, and out-of-touch Democrat Party to inflict more damage on the country.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll enjoy great food and great family time, even with people who don’t share the same political beliefs and values as you. If you’ve been in heated conversations – or not having conversations – over the past several years. Try something different and really listen to what the other side is saying. Look for any areas where you can find agreement. It’s a start.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.