The 2022 midterm elections had all the makings of a red wave, but four key issues held Republicans back, according to GOP pollster Wes Anderson.
Anderson told reporters on Monday that Republicans did not see the predicted wins on Election Night because the party failed to capture the independent vote, offered no value proposition for voters, failed to combat Democrats’ abortion messaging, and had a lack of resources.
In recapping the results of a Heritage Action post-election national survey conducted between November 16 and 20, Anderson said the ingredients for a wave were all there: A majority of respondents said the country was on the wrong track (68 percent) and President Biden had a 53 percent disapproval rating nationally. Among independents, 44 percent approved of the job the president is doing, while 52 percent disapproved. Fifty-one percent of voters in Senate battleground states said they disapproved, while 48 percent said they approved.
“The party in power should should feel the consequences in a significant manner,” he said. “They did not.”
A majority of respondents trusted Republicans over Democrats to handle three key issues: the economy, immigration, and crime. A majority of independents also trusted Republicans over Democrats to handle the three issues.
But Anderson said Republicans lost voters by offering “no plan, no agenda, no hint of what they will do.”
“In fact, in the Senate they bragged about not having such a thing,” he said.
The poll found 27 percent of independents did not know what the Republican message was, compared to 17 percent who said the same of the Democrats.
Anderson dubbed the 2022 midterms the “Seinfeld election” because it was an “election about nothing.”
He noted the Wisconsin Senate race was the exception to the rule, where allies of Republican Senator Ron Johnson spent a significant amount of money and created a unified, disciplined message against Mandela Barnes’s record on crime.
Fifty-two percent of independents disagreed with the statement that the “federal government spending by President Biden and Congressional Democrats is the main reason we are experiencing high inflation across our economy.” Forty-two percent agreed and 4 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
The loss of independent voters and college-educated voters “starts to put together the framework for how you lose a bunch of races close, especially in battleground states,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democrats and allies spent a whopping $450 million in advertising on abortion, according to the analysis done on behalf of Heritage Action. Ninety-five percent of those ads attacked the Republican Party or Republican candidates.
Republicans fell far behind on abortion messaging, with the GOP and its allies spending just $10 million fighting back against Democrats’ abortion messaging. Abortion was the one issue that respondents said they trusted Democrats to handle over Republicans, 49 percent to 39 percent.
Among those who said abortion was important to their vote, 38 percent voted Republican and 58 percent voted Democrat. “I can say with empirical facts that we ceded almost all the ground on abortion to the Democrats,” he said. “We did not engage in the fight.”
Democrats also far outspent Republicans in the key battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Democrats collectively spent $703 million and Republicans spent just $259 million.
In good news for Republicans, 51 percent of Hispanic respondents said they voted for the Republican candidate for Senate in their state, while 43 percent said they voted for the Democrat and 6 percent said other.
Anderson said as a pollster of 20 years, this survey was the first post-election poll that he has ever seen on a national level where Republicans won the Hispanic vote.
“That is underreported in an otherwise very disappointing year for us and that bodes well for the future of conservatives in general, certainly for the Republican Party,” he said.
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