The one winning message that helped Democrats secure the Senate

Chuck Schumer, Raphael Warnock
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., left, is welcomed to the Capitol by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., after Warnock defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia last night, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The one winning message that helped Democrats secure the Senate

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A recent analysis found that positive messaging was a key weapon in the Democrats’ arsenal that stunted Republican success in the 2022 midterm elections.

An analysis of messaging in political ads, the Cook Political Report concluded that the Democrats’ key to overcoming their Republican opponents in important Senate races, such as those in Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, was an emphasis on the positive aspect of their own candidacy, rather than attack ads against their Republican opponents.


Democrats in key races were able to build their own positive brand, independent from an unpopular President Joe Biden, to attract voters. In terms of positive advertising, Democrats outspent Republicans by huge margins in every single race. The happy messaging, the analysis says, was an essential component that explains the lack of a “red wave.”

Republican pollster David Winston agreed with the assessment, arguing that the Republicans’ “election problems are strategic more than tactical. Mail-in and early voting, while worth exploring, are convenient scapegoats that miss the bigger problems: an overreliance on outdated, negative messaging when voters want positive solutions to their problems, and campaign strategies based more on personality than policy.”

“In other words, simply running hundreds of millions of dollars tying Democrats to the unpopular president wasn’t enough to beat them. Republicans needed to give voters a reason to support Republican candidates beyond being a check on an unpopular president,” the report said in agreement.

The Cook Political Report used data from the political ad agency AdImpact, which categorized ads as positive, negative, or contrast — a mix of both. It found that while both parties heavily featured negative ads, the Democrats featured a much larger number of positive ads, which got through to fatigued voters.


The report concludes by suggesting that if Republicans want to turn around their electoral misfortunes, a change in strategy is needed.

“Voters are anxious and weary and cynical. But, running a campaign that relies solely on exploiting those negative feelings only gets you so far,” it concludes.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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