Plotting the Final Push

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy* (R-CA) has scheduled an announcement for September 19th in which he will reportedly bring forth his long-awaited campaign agenda to the forefront.

So far, GOP candidates have largely been on their own to establish the issue criteria from which to drive a message, while the party and their outside organization allies concentrated their ad context in the direction of identifying the nation’s problems.

One potential reason the Republicans failed to win a New York special congressional election in late August in a lean Democratic Upstate seat was the lack of an offensive issue message that contained solution action points.

Polling shows the average voter understands the issues, and a solid majority does believe the Biden Administration is at least partially responsible for the high inflation that has led to rising prices on virtually every good and service. But, it doesn’t appear as “not being them” will be enough to secure a large number of Republican victories.

Therefore, the McCarthy agenda is purported to offer some solution options that the candidates can use to crystalize their major campaign themes.

The YouGov international polling firm and The Economist periodical have partnered on a long series of in-depth issue polls, the results of which should give the GOP fodder for their message machine.

Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, Democrats have adopted a single- issue strategy surrounding abortion, with almost all of their campaign ads featuring the topic while attempting to categorize the pro-life Republicans as “extremists.” The YouGov data suggests that taking a more aggressive response position could help stabilize the GOP ship.

The Democrats believe the abortion issue is a driver to increase their base turnout and their best political playing card. In 35 states where primary turnout can be compared with like races from this year and the most recent midterm election in 2018, Republicans are up an aggregate 38.9% nationally in primary turnout while the Democrats are down a commensurate 22.3%. Hence, the Dems’ need to improve base participation in the general election.

The YouGov responses suggest that the party strategists may be overstating its value. In listing the issues of greatest importance, the YouGov sampling universe (9/3-6; 1,500 US adults; 800 female; online panels) actually found that abortion ranked 12th of the 15 issues they tested, and far behind the top-rated issue.

Inflation/high prices was ranked as being the most concerning topic with 72% placing it in the “extremely important” category. Jobs/economy and healthcare were tied for second with 65% responding that each is extremely important.

Abortion, in the 12th position, saw a rating of 45% in the “extremely important” response zone.

The Democrats’ main target audience for the abortion message is women, and at the top of the demographic segment is college educated women. The crosstab found that 58% “extremely important” was the highest rating recorded from any female category segment. Comparing to inflation/prices within the same group segments, the highest “extremely important” figure is 79%, and this among women without a college degree.

Another interesting area of potential attack for Republicans comes from a Suffolk University survey query. One of the questions these pollsters have been asking is whether the respondent will use his or her “vote in November to support the direction President Joe Biden is leading the nation;” would want his or her “vote in November to change the direction President Biden is leading the nation;” or, if the individual’s voting intention “this November doesn’t have much to do with President Biden and his policies.”

Suffolk’s most recent Ohio US Senate poll (for USA Today; 9/5-7; 500 OH likely general election voters; live interview), for example, while giving Democrat Tim Ryan a 47-46% edge over Republican J.D. Vance, found that 42% said they want to use their midterm vote to change President Joe Biden’s direction, 27% said they wanted to support where President Biden is taking the nation, and 26% indicated they are not using their vote to send the President a message. These figures appear to be typical statistical results from polls in which this particular question has been asked.

Though, to date, we have not detected any Republican campaign pursuing this type of message in direct advertising, it would not be surprising to see some aggressive campaigns begin to use this line of attack in a targeted fashion since the responses tend to clearly favor their position.

It is very likely we will soon see a change in strategic direction from the Republican campaigns, and we can expect such to begin happening in accordance with Mr. McCarthy’s agenda unveiling.

* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle. 

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