These former Trump voters are determined to stop him. Here’s how

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their surrogates need to focus their time and resources on consolidating the Democratic base and touting the president’s accomplishments in office. Yet anti-Trump Republicans also have work to do when it comes to building support for Biden.

A group of anti-Trump Republicans are launching their second “Republican Voters Against Trump” campaign against the former president, planning to spend $50 million and use homemade testimonial videos from voters who supported Trump in one of both of his previous campaigns—but cannot vote for him in 2024.

Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, despite his two impeachments and four criminal indictments. His true Achilles’ heel will be the significant number of Republican voters who refuse to support him. 

Sarah Longwell, president and founder of the Republican Accountability PAC, issued this statement about the campaign:

“Former Republicans and Republican-leaning voters hold the key to 2024, and reaching them with credible, relatable messengers is essential to re-creating the anti-Trump coalition that made the difference in 2020.

“It establishes a permission structure that says that—whatever their complaints about Joe Biden—Donald Trump is too dangerous and too unhinged to ever be president again. Who better to make this case than the voters who used to support him?”

The campaign released this 67-second video accompanying the launch.

A significant number of Republicans might be open to such a campaign. They include supporters of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose strongest performance came in cities, college towns, and suburbs, and particularly among college-educated voters, according to CNN.

Haley won Vermont (50%) and Washington, D.C. (63%), and received more than 30% of the vote in New Hampshire, Virginia, South Carolina, Utah, Colorado, and Massachusetts. Haley also got 570,000 votes in three key swing states: Nevada, North Carolina, and Michigan, Reuters reported.

Remember how close the 2020 election actually was? Although Biden received 7 million more votes, just a small shift in votes could have given Trump the Electoral College victory.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations report, if Trump had picked up 42,921 votes in Arizona (10,457), Georgia (11,779), and Wisconsin (20,682), plus the one electoral vote in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which he lost to Biden by 22,091 votes, he would have won the Electoral College outright. If he’d lost Nebraska’s 2nd, the House would have then decided the election. Republicans held the majority of state delegations in the newly inaugurated Congress, and they undoubtedly would have chosen Trump.

However, Haley dropped out of the race last week, leaving no opposition for Trump. Yet in Tuesday’s primaries, she still received nearly 78,000 votes in Georgia—far more than the number of votes Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” in order to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in the state. Haley also got 21% of the vote in Washington state.

It’s not yet known how much of Tuesday’s Haley support came from early votes cast before she quit the race, but in Georgia, The New York Times estimates that “less than 5%” of Election Day votes were cast for her. Protest votes for sure—but the reality is that over 13% of Peach State voters chose Haley—when they had her as a choice and when they didn’t. 

Haley declined to endorse Trump when she dropped out of the race, saying instead that “it is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond who did not support him.” She added that “politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away.”

And while Trump invited Haley supporters to join his right-wing MAGA movement, he also bashed many of her supporters as “Radical Left Democrats.”

Biden seized on the opportunity and commended Haley for being “willing to speak the truth about Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign,” Biden said in a statement. “I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

Polls indicate that Biden could gain support among Haley voters. An Emerson College poll released after Haley quit the race found that 63% of her supporters back Biden and just 27% support Trump, with 10% undecided, The Hill reported.

A Washington Post/Quinnipiac University poll saw slightly different results.

Recent polling from Quinnipiac University found that about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters who supported Haley would vote for Trump, while 37 percent would vote for Biden. Twelve percent said they would abstain, vote for someone else or hadn’t yet decided what to do.

It’s clear that there’s room for Republican Voters Against Trump to break through. Longwell said her PAC has already raised $20 million and hopes to raise another $30 million before the November election, Forbes reported. Major donors include several anti-Trump billionaires—Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a major Democratic donor; Seth Klarman, who runs the Boston-based Baupost hedge fund, and John Pritzker, a member of the family that founded the Hyatt hotel brand.

The RVAT campaign plans to deploy ads on television, streaming, radio, billboards, and digital media in critical swing states, focusing on Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Longwell is a longtime Republican strategist and former national board chair of the Log Cabin Republicans, the conservative LGBTQ+ organization. She was among the early Never Trumpers, refusing to endorse him in 2016. In 2018, she became a co-founder of the anti-Trump conservative news and opinion website The Bulwark.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Longwell said Republican Voters Against Trump is building on experiences from the 2020 presidential race. In the 2022 midterms, the group also campaigned against MAGA extremists like gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.  

In 2020, Longwell said the group first ran traditional attack ads that really beat up on Trump and went viral. But the ads actually turned off and failed to persuade the center-right Republican voters they were trying to reach.

They had more success running personal testimonials from former Trump supporters. Longwell said such testimonials created a “permission structure” which showed there was a community of people who identified themselves as Republicans but were also anti-Trump.

Longwell acknowledged that about 70% of the GOP has gone “full MAGA”—they believe the 2020 election was stolen, but the remaining 30% are persuadable. “Some of those people are going to go home to Trump … They are sort of always Republicans,” Longwell said on “Morning Joe.” 

“There is another group in that 30% that I think has already been voting for Joe Biden,” she added.

Then Longwell described a third group of right-leaning independents, or soft GOP voters, who are “double doubters.”

“They have a tough time voting for Democrats, but also don’t think Donald Trump is a Republican, not like the kind of Republicans of (Ronald) Reagan or John McCain or of Mitt Romney that they like, …

”We think about this less like building a pro-Joe Biden coalition — because a lot of these people they don’t love Joe Biden — but what you can do is build an anti-Trump coalition.”  She added that the  goal is to get as many of them as possible to come around and vote for Biden.

Watch Longwell’s full MSNBC interview below.

The RVAT testimonials do not promote Biden’s record in office, and the issue of abortion rights isn’t raised. Instead, the videos focus entirely on attacking Trump.

There are a lot more ways to criticize Trump this time around than during the 2020 campaign: the Jan. 6 insurrection, the threat he poses to democracy as a wannabe dictator, his softness on Vladimir Putin and willingness to abandon Ukraine, his four criminal indictments, and his mental fitness to be president, just to name a few. That has led some of the Republican voters to say that Joe Biden is the first Democrat they’ve ever supported.

Here are two of the testimonials posted on X, formerly known as Twitter:

x

x

Longwell, writing for The Bulwark, said what she’d like to see next is former Trump appointees step up and come out in force against him—beyond essays in elite news outlets like The Atlantic or in an occasional interview on CNN. These include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, White House chief of staff John Kelly,  Attorney General William Barr, national security adviser John Bolton, and even Vice President Mike Pence. 

What we have here is a parade of high-level, serious people (whatever you think about their politics) who served the guy and all came to the same conclusion, independently: He’s nuts.”

If we want to stop a Trump restoration and the promised MAGA dictatorship, it’s going to require building a coalition of people who understand the stakes. And there are no messengers better equipped to convey the peril of a Trump presidency than those who lived it firsthand, on the inside.

Longwell said that, based on focus groups she’s conducted of Republican voters, “the reason they seem unbothered by Trump’s autocratic tendencies is that a lot of them don’t know about them” (although some are “perfectly fine with it”). 

The people who served Trump directly need to go on the record, as loudly and frequently as possible, about exactly why he should never get near the White House again. … They could call this project Trump Officials Against Trump.”

[…]

We need former Trump officials—people of conscience, who have not acquiesced to the authoritarianism of it all—to stand as one and to speak plainly to the American people. Again and again, until every voter has heard their voices. … It’s time to go to work. Your country needs you.

In  the 1980 and 1984 campaigns, we heard a lot about so-called “Reagan Democrats.” It’s hard not to wonder: How many “Biden Republicans” might be out there in 2024? 

Campaign Action



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *