MEMO: No Republican is safe this November

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Bradley Beychok, President of American Bridge
DATE: March 13, 2017
RE: No Republican is safe this November

“This guy should win easily, and he is going to win easy.” Donald Trump, 3/10/2018

That sound you hear is a blue wave approaching. The results in Pennsylvania spell disaster for Republicans in November; if they can’t win in a longtime Republican stronghold, no district is safe, especially considering that Republicans nationwide will have to confront the same liabilities that brought Rick Saccone down in Pennsylvania.

Voters are rejecting the GOP’s toxic agenda, even in red districts – starting with the Republican tax scam 

Tonight’s results are the clearest indication to date that voters are turning on Trump’s toxic agenda. From rising healthcare costs to a tax scam that further rigs the economy for the rich, voters don’t like what they see and are rejecting these policies at the ballot box.  What’s particularly telling, however, is that the Republican rhetoric on their tax plan was proven to beentirely false, as tonight’s results attest.

In January, Republicans were telling anyone who would listen that their tax scam would be an asset, not a liability, with voters come November. Just a few months later, we’ve seen the opposite to be true.  Their plan remains unpopular with voters, despite their attempts to force its popularity with big money ad campaigns. In fact, the plan proved so useless in moving voters in their direction that third-party groups  “dramatically scaled back their ads promoting the party’s tax cut, with the messaging barely moving the needle in the district’s working-class confines.”

At the same time, voters who had supported Trump in 2016 criticized the plan to journalists for weeks, calling it a “giveaway to the rich,” saying, “it certainly doesn’t benefit the middle class much,” and comparing it to “being thrown a bone.”  One 2016 Trump voter told The New York Times she was “going back to my Democrats” because she thought Social Security might be cut to make up for the deficit increases caused by the tax plan.

This all comes as recent national polls have demonstrated that the Trump-Republican tax planremains underwater. The takeaway is clear: the cake is baked on this plan. Voters don’t like it, and millions in advertising won’t fix that.

The GOP’s failure to address the opioid crisis is also a political liability 

The GOP’s failure to address this crisis that is ravaging communities across the country is becoming a political liability.  This begins with Trump, who despite promising to fix the epidemic has done little in office to actually address it.  But the party as a whole is also failing here, and voters are noticing. In Pennsylvania, a state that is one of the hardest hit by this crisis in the country, Saccone held unacceptable positions on the opioid epidemic – he believed that government shouldn’t be doing more to help addiction victims for fiscal reasons, yet had no objection to tax cuts for the wealthy that will increase the U.S. deficit by $1.5 trillion.  Meanwhile, he attacked victims of the epidemic by suggesting they weren’t doing their piece to tackle the crisis on their own, and scolded a parent who was pleading for the state to devote more resources to the crisis, noting that budget cuts were his priority, not addressing the crisis.

American Bridge was the first organization to highlight his backward position on the crisis in the press, followed by two digital ads that were broadly targeted across the district. We knew that by highlighting Saccone’s opposition to fighting the crisis, voters would realize that he was not the best person to represent their interests. We were right.

Don’t believe the spin; this was bigger than Saccone’s flaws 

Republicans are now trying to blame their loss on Saccone, suggesting his flaws as a candidate are what ultimately did him in.  But no one should be fooled; earlier this year, National Republican Congressional Committee expressed “confidence” in Saccone’s ability to win and called him a “great fit for the district.” Saccone was a battle-tested candidate who beat three fellow state legislators to win the support of the 18th district’s party committee. He unseated a 26-year Democratic incumbent when he first ran for the Pennsylvania House in 2010 and previously served on a school board within the 18th district. Simply put, this was an experienced politician with the full backing of the local party going up against a young, first-time candidate in a conservative district.

Republicans’ excuses are further discredited by the advantages they had because of the district’s makeup and voting history, as well as by the enormous resources the GOP dedicated to bolstering Saccone’s campaign.  In total, Republicans spent more than $10 million to prop-up Saccone’s candidacy.

Add these factors together and the takeaway is clear: Saccone should’ve won easily, but because the environment is so toxic for Republicans, he didn’t.

Conclusion

Donald Trump and the Republican majorities enabling him in Congress have become an albatross around the necks of Republican candidates all over the country, even in bright red districts like PA-18. Voters are rejecting Trump’s Washington and the Republicans candidates who personify his backwards agenda. The record that Trump and the congressional GOP have built for themselves is defined by chaos, broken promises, and policies that sell-out working Americans in order to help the already-rich. Come November, the American people are going to hold the GOP accountable.