Republicans: Your Messaging Stinks | Steve Berman

Back in 2015, most of us over at The Resurgent warned Democrats that they were running against public opinion. Gun control, global warming, and radical “woke” PC were only interesting to the Very Online Twitter brigades, which is why Hillary and her Brooklyn hipster campaign staff couldn’t understand why they’d possibly need to send boots on the ground to Michigan or Wisconsin.

Six years later, it’s time to warn Republicans.

In 2016, the GOP kept both houses of Congress and picked up two governors mansions, with Trump pulling off a narrow victory by flipping key counties in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan because the Democrats were focused on Bernie Sanders as a maverick, and Hillary was un unlikeable establishment hack.

In 2018, the GOP lost the House, because in a midterm election with a deeply divided nation, that’s generally what happens. In 2020, the GOP lost the Senate, despite gaining in the House, because President Trump (I think on purpose) sunk his own party by pursuing a suicidal “stolen election” narrative that only sought to strengthen the unholy bond between himself and his most ardent supporters. 

It’s come to the point that you’re either with Trump, or you are against him. Neither side allows souls to dwell in the middle-ground, a barren no-man’s land pockmarked with shell holes and crisscrossed with machine-gun bursts. But that’s not the GOP’s big problem.

Republicans are running against popular opinion on an issue pushed by Democrats. The Democrats want to make this election about elections and voting rights. As Republican legislatures pursue measures to tighten rules and processes surrounding mail-in ballots, drop boxes and vote harvesting by Democrat community organizers, they play right into the hands of their political opponents.

Silly grandstand measures like the Great Texas Democrat Stampede out of the Lone Star State keep the issue on the front burner. That gives President Biden room to make speeches like the one in Philadelphia where he called Republican voting reform laws “un-American” and “un-democratic.”

There’s little chance of the “For the People” H.R.1 voting bill to pass the Senate. Not without overturning the filibuster, which at this point is politically untenable as long as Sen. Joe Manchin has the power to stop it (and he does). But keeping the issue at the front—gaslighting the fact that Voter ID laws have popular support—puts Republicans at a messaging disadvantage.

Stories like this one in the Atlanta Journal Constitution function as baits for issue traps on voting rights: 200 Fulton County ballots were scanned twice.

The discovery of identical ballots provides evidence to back up allegations of problems in the presidential election, but on a relatively small scale that had no bearing on the final certified count. A group of voters seeking to prove the election was fraudulent say double-counting is just the beginning of what they hope to find.

Watch the “stolen election” brigades pound their forks and spoons like prisoners waiting for chow at this one. It makes the GOP, when they call for reforms, seem unhinged because of the small scale of the problem. Fulton County’s election board is a hive of Democrat-led incompetence and political footsie-playing. They’d cheat like Lance Armstrong if they felt they could get away with it, but they’ll settle for long lines, thirsty voters, and poll closures so they can blame Republicans for it.

By framing these laws as “making it more difficult to vote,” Democrats hit a nerve with many minorities and those who see Republicans as being overly political in their response. Pair this with some of the more extreme factions of the GOP (in full display at the grift-mill CPAC conference), along with redistricting, and Republicans should worry about pushing this issue too far. Keeping voting easy is a very popular issue for voters.

Democrats simply have to show how hard it is for certain voters, while letting the far-right fringe do their peacock dance.

If Republicans want to blow it in 2022, when they could take both the House and Senate back, they should just continue to push election security issues, keep it on the front burner, so Democrats can link it to their astroturf “Asian hate” among other things that make the GOP look like racist Neanderthals.

Remember, messaging doesn’t count on the message being true. Four years of Donald Trump should have cemented that lesson in Republican heads. But like Hillary in 2016, they’re playing to their base, and ignoring public opinion that could drive key close races to go blue. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if Georgia Sen. Warnock kept his seat.

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.

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