GOP memo calls for candidates to finish their sentences on messaging
A Republican National Committee (RNC) memo aims to tell GOP candidates in the height of the midterm season how to drive their points home to independent and swing voters so their messages don’t fall flat.
The messaging memo issued Monday from the RNC along with Kellyanne Conway’s KAConsulting and The Tarrance Group, first provided to The Hill, gives messaging suggestions to Republican candidates in five top policy areas: cost of living and the economy, abortion, crime and safety, energy and the environment, and education.
“In all instances, it is important that Republicans finish their sentences,” the memo said about candidates following through to communicate full messages to voters.
It acknowledges some gaps in messaging, like voters not connecting unpopular policies on crime to Democratic candidates, and notes that some voters are unsure who to blame for rising costs.
The memo said that it “brought together several research methods” that “combined both polling and modeling” in order to provide an analysis of the midterm voters and recommendations for how candidates should address top issues.
In a statement, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Republican candidates “are meeting voters where they are and discussing the issues they care about, from the economy to crime and safety,” and that “voters will turn to the candidates who showed compassion and solutions for their concerns.”
Cost of living and the economy
Voters who blame President Biden for the economy are likely to vote Republican, the RNC found, but it added that candidates need to “finish their sentences” to sway voters who are unsure about where the blame lies for rising prices, communicating that Biden is at fault rather than greed and pent-up consumer demand.
On abortion, an issue that analysts widely say is a challenge for Republicans this cycle after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the RNC asserts that it has the winning message on abortion if it turns the issue back on Democrats.
But even by its own analysis, it finds that about four-fifths of voters were “not pleased” with the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Republicans’ answer to that dissatisfaction is to appeal to the middle portion of voters who were not happy with the Dobbs decision, but also disagree with not having any restrictions on later-term abortions or other abortions, and hammer that contrast.
It also subtly suggests that candidates should express openness to abortion exceptions rather than taking a hard-line stance.
“When comparing a Democrat who supports abortion at any time for any reason, against a Pro-life Republican who supports exceptions for instances of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, the GOP candidate holds a +22% advantage,” the memo said.
Crime and safety
Though it sees an advantage for Republicans on the issue of crime, particularly with urban voters and Hispanic voters, GOP analysis found a disconnect with voters not necessarily connecting “soft on crime” policies to individual Democratic politicians and candidates.
“During a focus group held in late August 2022, participants discussed issues related to crime, including reduced sentences for criminal, sanctuary cities, gangs, drugs, and illegal immigration,” the memo said. “While there was a sense that Democrat policies were making crime worse, there was hesitancy to link those policies directly to Democrat candidates.”
Energy and the environment
The RNC is encouraging candidates to incorporate environmental issues as they talk about increasing domestic energy production.
“Focusing on all-of-the-above energy solutions with the goal of bringing down energy costs is significantly stronger than saying things like ‘opening up American land for more drilling’ and ‘Building American Pipelines,’” the memo said.
The RNC sees education as a bright spot for the party; it warned that delivering a winning message requires more than raging against “critical race theory” and other culture war issues.
“Focusing on CRT and masks excites the GOP base, but parental rights and quality education drive independents,” the memo said, also adding: “When asked about topics like CRT, Republicans should also talk about issues that move independent voters like kids learning enough of life’s basic skills, emotional and educational development, and parental involvement.”