Republican Voters Against Trump Plans $50 Million Ad Campaign

A Republican group dedicated to opposing former President Donald J. Trump is planning to spend $50 million to stop him through a series of homemade testimonial videos of voters who backed him in past elections but say they can no longer support him in 2024.

The group, Republican Voters Against Trump, first emerged in the 2020 campaign and made a return appearance for the 2022 midterm elections. It is run by Sarah Longwell, a leading figure in Never-Trump politics whose focus groups and polling are a staple of center-right podcasts and have made her a go-to figure for political reporters aiming to decipher the motivations behind Trump supporters.

Unlike Democratic organizations that aim to help President Biden by promoting his record in office, Ms. Longwell’s group focuses solely on attacking Mr. Trump through the voices of his former backers. The Republican Voters Against Trump website features 100 videos, from one to three minutes long, of Republicans speaking to a computer or mobile-phone camera about why they voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 or 2020 and will not do so in 2024.

The personal testimonial style, Ms. Longwell said, has proved far more successful in her focus groups at cleaving Trump voters away from him than traditional attack advertising that contrasts Mr. Trump with Mr. Biden.

Notably, the speakers in the videos do not praise Mr. Biden or offer a case for why he deserves a second term. Nor do any of the initial testimonials address abortion rights — the issue that has powered Democratic electoral victories since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended a constitutional right to an abortion in June 2022.

“It’s really important to understand you’re not building a pro-Joe Biden coalition,” Ms. Longwell said. “You’re building an anti-Trump coalition.”

In 2020, Republican Voters Against Trump ended the presidential campaign with more than 1,000 homemade videos on its website of people who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 but said they would not do so again. For 2024, the group is starting with 100 testimonials and instructions on its website for past Trump supporters to submit their own stories.

So far, the anti-Trump Republicans who have recorded their thoughts for Ms. Longwell have focused on Mr. Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, blaming him for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Abortion, Ms. Longwell said, was a far less urgent concern for these voters. She said many of them did not connect Mr. Trump with the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision and did not believe he opposes the practice.

“They view Trump as a cultural moderate,” she said. “They think he’s paying for abortions. Nobody thinks this guy has an ounce of sexual morality. They don’t think he’s Mike Pence. And so that sort of helps him.”

Ms. Longwell said she had $20 million already committed to her 2024 effort and aimed to raise the rest of the money for her advertising campaign between now and the fall.


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