APP Press - Elections

New APP Report Faults Bad GOP Messaging for Poor 2022 Results

August 30, 2023

WASHINGTON — Today, American Principles Project (APP) released a new report offering a comprehensive look into Republicans’ disappointing performance in the 2022 midterms. “The Failed Red Wave: Lessons from the GOP Letdown” dismisses the argument that Republicans lost because of a lack of turnout or poor candidate quality, and instead places the blame primarily on the national party’s lackluster message in the lead-up to the election. The report also includes a foreword from 2022 Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters.

You can read an executive summary of the full report here.

The report identifies several key areas where Republicans put themselves at a disadvantage:

  • Bad Economic Messaging: The Republican economic message failed to resonate widely with voters while Democrats successfully co-opted elements of the Trump economic agenda to offset their own weaknesses.
  • Bad Crime Messaging: Outside of a few notable races, the Republican crime message also failed to resonate, while Democrats once again adopted certain GOP talking points effectively.
  • Bad Abortion Messaging: Republicans’ lack of a unified message—or any message—allowed Democrats to successfully brand them as the extremists on the issue.
  • Bad Culture-War Messaging: Republicans largely abandoned the issues that drove election victories in 2021—and that still provide the most advantageous contrast with Democrats.
  • Advertising Discrepancy: Republicans were so badly outspent on the airwaves in key races that any good messaging they did have was simply drowned out.

You can read the full report here.

Report co-author and APP President Terry Schilling released the following statement:

“Ten years ago, just months after Republicans’ defeat in the 2012 election, APP released its first post-election ‘autopsy’ report urging the GOP to embrace social conservatism and economic populism to win back American voters. In 2016, Donald Trump proved our analysis correct.

“Nevertheless, today we find ourselves in nearly the same position as before. Despite Trump’s success, many in the Republican Party continue to return to the failed strategy of the previous years, selling a stale economic message and refusing to fight on cultural issues. It didn’t work then, and it still isn’t working now. We need to change the game.

“Fortunately, we have the blueprint for how to succeed: Trump in 2016, Glenn Youngkin in 2021, Ron DeSantis in 2022. Numerous times now, we’ve seen how Republicans who take populist positions and go on offense against Democrats’ cultural extremism can achieve incredible electoral gains. We only need leaders with the courage to do it.

“Our latest report offers yet more overwhelming evidence that this path is the only one that will lead the GOP to victory in 2024. We urge Republican candidates to learn from the lessons of last year—and the last decade—in order to take advantage of the massive opportunity next year’s election will bring.”

To schedule an engagement with American Principles Project, contact Paul Dupont at (o) 202-503-2010 or pdupont@americanprinciplesproject.org.


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