The GOP Counter Offensive is Here
The 2022 is election is about to get very nasty as the GOP tries to salvage about of sinking campaigns
Less than 60 days before the election, Republicans are on the defensive in the key Senate races. They have a subpar slate of candidates with unpopular positions and a propensity for saying really dumb things. The FiveThirtyEight deluxe model predicts that the Democrats are slightly favored to win the Senate. This is a significant shift from earlier this year, when most political observers assumed the Republicans would take control of the House and Senate.
Much has changed since the Democrats’ spring of discontent. Gas prices are down, COVID concerns have faded somewhat, and Biden and the Democrats delivered a series of surprising and important wins. The precipitating event was, of course, the decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. After decades of firing up their base with anti-abortion rhetoric (while secretly hoping no one else worried about abortion access), the GOP was the dog that caught the car. Their political problems were exacerbated by a bunch of MAGA extremists pushing even more extreme policies, including total abortion bans, criminal penalties for women and doctors, and prohibitions on IVF and out-of-state travel.
With uncharacteristic aggressiveness, Democrats immediately started pounding the Republicans on air, in the press, and on the Internet. As the New York Times reported last month:
In the roughly 50 days since the Supreme Court’s ruling, Democrats have flooded the airwaves in many of the nation’s most closely watched contests, spending nearly eight times as much as Republicans have on ads talking about abortion — $31.9 million compared with $4.2 million, according to data from AdImpact, a media tracking firm. And in the closest Senate and governor’s contests, Republicans have spent virtually nothing countering the Democratic offensive.
Democrats are in a surprisingly strong position with less than 60 days until the votes are counted. But the Republicans will not go quietly into the night; they are in the midst of launching a counter-offensive to regain the advantage. You can see the seeds of the Republican plan in their ads and public utterances. Democrats need to prepare for these Republican tactics:
Step 1: Lying About Their Position on Abortion
The Republicans have an intractable political problem borne of reality — the public is focused on abortion AND they absolutely abhor the Republican position. The good news for Republicans (but not democracy) is that they have a propaganda and disinformation machine with the power to bend reality to their political whims. Step one in their plan is to erase the radical positions they adopted earlier this year. As Axios recently reported:
In battlegrounds in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina, GOP candidates are scrubbing abortion language from campaign websites and adjusting rhetoric on the trail.
Step two: Stare into the camera and repeatedly lie about their position. This ad from Blake Masters is a master class in awkward dishonesty:
In the ad, Masters vaguely claims that Mark Kelly, his Democratic opponent, is lying about his position. He asserts that he supports a “ban on very late-term and partial-birth abortion.” That may be technically true, but it is only part of the story. Masters previously supported a federal personhood law, which would likely lead to a total ban on abortion with no exceptions. According to Politico, he’s also been supportive of Arizona’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. Lying through their teeth in soft-focused direct-to-camera ads is the same tactic the Republicans used in 2018. Remember Josh Hawley and others blatantly lying about their support for removing the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with preexisting conditions?
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