As the midterm elections get closer, Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to secure every last vote they can. With Republicans looking strong in the polls, Democrats have adjusted their strategy quite a bit through messaging and campaign funds.
“The amount of undecided voters has stayed fairly large leading up to election day,” Republican strategist Ash Wright said. “Voters are ultimately breaking towards Republicans. And a lot of it, at least from what I see, is based ultimately on economics.”
Inflation has remained the top issue for most Americans. According to Morning Consult polling data, the next issue voters call “very important” is crime, another Republican talking point.
“Democrats are talking a lot about social issues, which leading up to elections always perform well, but voters ultimately in bad economic times, vote for their pocketbooks,” Wright said.
The big social issue Democrats are using to motivate voters is abortion, but that is not gaining them enough ground. So Democrats are pivoting to also talk about inflation.
“Democrats all voted to pass a bill that was called the Inflation Reduction Act,” Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha said. “It’s pretty simple for most folks, while Republicans all voted against a bill. That was the inflation Reduction Act. Let’s start there.”
Messaging, of course, is not all it takes. Democrats are shifting House campaign money. Instead of trying to flip seats, they are diverting money to protect blue seats.
For example, AdImpact data shows reduced ad spending in California’s 22nd Congressional District, where the incumbent is a Republican, and increased spending in places like Pennsylvania’s 7th District to defend the Democratic incumbent Susan Wild.
“You’ve only got so much money, and you’ve only got so many races,” Rocha said. “And so what the party is doing on the House side is trusting their pollster who has been working in those top 30 or 40 House races to determine if they can actually win going into the last couple of weeks where they probably should take the money in ones that they determined they can’t really win and move those into the ones that have really been tightening.”
Both parties’ final strategies are especially apparent in New York’s 17th District, where the incumbent is Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D). Maloney could be the first House campaign chief ousted by the other party since 1980. To defend Maloney, the DCCC reportedly announced it’ll spend more than half a million dollars on a new attack ad. Republicans are, of course, trying to flip the seat by spending $6 million on the race, according to the New York Times.
SHANNON LONGWORTH: WE’RE GETTING DOWN TO THE WIRE, AND THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTIES ARE SCRAMBLING TO SECURE EVERY LAST VOTE THEY CAN FOR THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS.
WITH LIMITED TIME LEFT, IT’S THE LAST CHANCE TO RESTRATEGIZE. BOTH THE MESSAGING AND THE MONEY WILL NEED TO MAKE THE MOST IMPACT THEY CAN.
WITH REPUBLICANS LOOKING STRONG IN THE POLLS, DEMOCRATS SEEM TO BE ADJUSTING QUITE A BIT.
LET’S CHECK IN ON EACH PARTY’S POSITION WITH DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST CHUCK ROCHA AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST ASH WRIGHT.
ASH WRIGHT: “THE AMOUNT OF UNDECIDED VOTERS HAS STAYED FAIRLY LARGE LEADING UP TO ELECTION DAY. WHAT THEY SEE NOW IS THAT–WHAT’S HAPPENING IS–THOSE VOTERS ARE ULTIMATELY BREAKING TOWARDS REPUBLICANS. AND A LOT OF IT, AT LEAST FROM WHAT I SEE IS BASED ULTIMATELY ON ECONOMICS.”
LONGWORTH: THAT MAKES SENSE, AS INFLATION REMAINS THE TOP ISSUE FOR MOST AMERICANS.
THE NEXT ISSUE VOTERS CALL “VERY IMPORTANT,” IS CRIME. THAT’S ACCORDING TO MORNING CONSULT POLLING.
AND CRIME IS ANOTHER REPUBLICAN TALKING POINT.
WRIGHT: “DEMOCRATS ARE TALKING A LOT ABOUT SOCIAL ISSUES, WHICH LEADING UP TO ELECTIONS ALWAYS PERFORM WELL, BUT VOTERS ULTIMATELY IN BAD ECONOMIC TIMES, VOTE FOR THEIR POCKETBOOKS.”
LONGWORTH: THE BIG SOCIAL ISSUE DEMOCRATS ARE USING TO MOTIVATE VOTERS IS ABORTION.
CHUCK ROCHA: “SO DEMOCRATS ARE LEANING INTO THAT, BUT I AM ADVISING MY DEMOCRATS TO LEAN INTO THAT, RUN YOUR MESSAGING ON THAT TO MAXIMIZE THE FEMALE VOTE.”
LONGWORTH: BUT THAT’S NOT GAINING THEM ENOUGH GROUND.
SO THEY’RE PIVOTING TO ALSO TALK ABOUT INFLATION.
ROCHA: “DEMOCRATS ALL VOTED TO PASS A BILL THAT WAS CALLED THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT. IT’S PRETTY SIMPLE FOR MOST FOLKS, WHILE REPUBLICANS ALL VOTED AGAINST A BILL. THAT WAS THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT. LET’S START THERE.”
LONGWORTH: MESSAGING, OF COURSE, ISN’T ALL IT TAKES. DEMOCRATS ARE SHIFTING HOUSE CAMPAIGN MONEY.
INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FLIP SEATS, THEY’RE DIVERTING MONEY TO PROTECT BLUE SEATS.
FOR EXAMPLE, ADIMPACT DATA SHOWS REDUCED AD SPENDING IN CALIFORNIA’S 22ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, WHERE THE INCUMBENT IS A REPUBLICAN…AND INCREASED SPENDING IN PLACES LIKE PENNSYLVANIA’S 7TH DISTRICT TO DEFEND THE DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT SUSAN WILD.
ROCHA: “YOU’VE ONLY GOT SO MUCH MONEY, AND YOU’VE ONLY GOT SO MANY RACES. / AND SO WHAT THE PARTY IS DOING ON THE HOUSE SIDE IS TRUSTING THEIR POLLSTER WHO HAS BEEN WORKING IN THOSE TOP 30 OR 40 HOUSE RACES TO DETERMINE IF THEY CAN ACTUALLY WIN GOING INTO THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS WHERE THEY PROBABLY SHOULD TAKE THE MONEY IN ONES THAT THEY DETERMINED THEY CAN’T REALLY WIN AND MOVE THOSE INTO THE ONES THAT HAVE REALLY BEEN TIGHTENING.”
LONGWORTH: BOTH PARTIES’ FINAL STRATEGIES ARE ESPECIALLY APPARENT IN NEW YORK’S 17TH DISTRICT.
THE INCUMBENT IS REPRESENTATIVE SEAN PATRICK MALONEY.
THE DEMOCRAT COULD BE THE FIRST HOUSE CAMPAIGN CHIEF OUSTED BY THE OTHER PARTY SINCE 1980. TO DEFEND MALONEY, THE DCCC REPORTEDLY ANNOUNCED IT’LL SPEND MORE THAN HALF A MILLION DOLLARS ON A NEW ATTACK AD. REPUBLICANS ARE, OF COURSE, TRYING TO FLIP THE SEAT, SPENDING $6 MILLION ON THE RACE, ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES.
OVER IN THE SENATE, REPUBLICANS ARE NOT BEING QUITE AS AGGRESSIVE…AS IT IS TAKING LOT OF MONEY TO DEFEND THEIR RED SEATS–LIKE THOSE IN PENNSYLVANIA AND OHIO.
ALL THIS IS TO SAY, POLLING AND LIMITED FUNDS FORCES EACH PARTY TO RE-STRATEGIZE IN THE FINAL DAYS BEFORE AN ELECTION. WILL THESE CHANGES MOVE THE NEEDLE? WE’LL JUST HAVE TO SEE.