Five Things Republican Women Candidates Should Know

You should know that…

…it’s less of an exclusive club (which is a *very* good thing). There are more Republican women running for Congress than ever before. 224 women have stepped up to run. This number is a huge win for the NRCC, its Recruitment Chair Susan Brooks, Rep. Elise Stefanik, and outside groups like Winning For Women (WFW) and VIEW PAC.

…there is more support for you than ever before. Republican groups have really stepped up for Republican women during this primary season. VIEW PAC and Stefanik’s E-PAC have been helping women candidates raise the hard dollars they need for their campaigns and WFW’s Super PAC uses Independent Expenditures in support of their endorsed candidates.

…you need to emphasize your grit to Republican voters. Primaries are often the toughest hurdle for Republican women to clear. Fundraising is tougher because donors wait to see who emerges, and voters can often perceive women candidates as too moderate. How do you overcome that? First, target your messages on the issues to those who care about those positions (check out our Data Dictionary options for this). Then, show your authentic grit. Primary voters often want to see someone with the toughness to stand up to the Left. Tell voters where you stand on the issues and, importantly, tell them why you care and why you won’t back down from your position.

…your gender can be a tool to use to connect with voters, including in primaries. Republicans are not known for buying into the Left’s concept of identity politics, but there are voters (men and women) who believe the world would be better off if more women were in charge. In general elections, more voters see women candidates as outsiders and agents of change. In primaries, this is a niche message that needs to be expertly targeted. That’s where we come in (check out how our digital team is changing the game).

…we’re here to help. WPAi’s Cleopatra model identifies the voters who most believe that women can and should be running things. Restricted to primary voters or opened to include general election voters, Republican women candidates and their campaigns can use their gender as a tool to connect with these individual voters. This model is as close to turn-key ready as you can get: You have a clear, authentic, easy to execute message that will resonate with a targetable group of voters. Reach out today to learn more!

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Five Things to Know About Independent Voters

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Senior Strategist Conor Maguire Introduces COVID-19 Data Segments

Amanda Iovino Discusses Virginia and the 2020 Presidential Election with What’s Next! Virginia

Amanda Iovino Shares a Look at Virginia Today with What’s Next! Virginia

Senior Strategist Amanda Iovino Discusses Cleopatra Model

The Icosahedron #8 ft. Bryon Allen, Ph.D. on the fallout from Super Tuesday

Thanks for reading our newsletter. In this issue, Chief Research Officer Bryon Allen, Ph.D. reviews how former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to win the nomination is right on schedule despite the remaining challenge by Senator Bernie Sanders. – Michael D. Cohen, Ph.D., CSO, WPA Intelligence

Bernie Busts and Biden Booms

By Bryon Allen, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer

As the dust clears after Super Tuesday and states not named California or Colorado have wrapped up their vote count, it has become increasingly likely that Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee. Biden has the endorsement advantage and is polling ahead nationally, ahead in Michigan (the next big state to vote), and way ahead in Florida (which votes in two weeks).

The thing is, maybe it was always going to be Biden. A lot of pundits used 2016 as a template for what would happen in this election, especially after Bernie kind of won Iowa and won New Hampshire.

But Bernie isn’t Trump. If anything, he’s the opposite of Trump. Trump was a highly unconventional candidate with pretty orthodox positions on key Republican issues: life, guns, taxes, and border security. Where he diverges from some Republicans, such as on trade and deployments of troops abroad, he still represents one of several strands within the party on issues where there isn’t full agreement.

Bernie, on the other hand, is a highly conventional candidate. With 16 years in the House and 13 in the Senate following almost a decade as a Mayor, he’s been in elected office longer than Pete Buttigieg has been alive. But Bernie is not an orthodox Democrat. His stated positions are on the extreme left flank of the party (and his open affection for communist and socialist dictators) are simply out of step with even a Democratic Party that continues to veer leftward.

While the media was salivating over Bernie as the Democrats’ Trump, Biden was making the argument that he was effectively running for the third Obama term, essentially running the race that he skipped in 2016 due to the death of his son.

The primary calendar worked against Biden as he was never going to beat Bernie in a caucus in Iowa, and New Hampshire posed the dual problem of being in Bernie’s back yard and being a place where they often vote for the heterodox candidate.

Biden called his shot: barely compete in Iowa or New Hampshire, finish second in Nevada (where the caucus structure again worked against him), and then win South Carolina as the “first primary that is representative of the Democratic Party.” It was a risky strategy as fundraising and earned media attention would be running short by South Carolina, but by convincing key establishment Dems to withhold endorsements until after South Carolina, and by relying on a few key old friends like Jim Clyburn to act when needed, it worked out for Biden.

By playing out the script exactly as he had written it, Biden could claim that he was the front-runner all along. We’ve seen the rapid consolidation of establishment support after his South Carolina win, and we will continue to see it after his strong Super Tuesday.

This is another way that 2020 isn’t 2016. The Democratic establishment, which is really the Obama establishment now that the Clintons have embarrassingly exited stage left, is much more unified than the post-Bush Republican establishment was. It’s much easier for them to pull strings, get sitting Senators and Mayors with big aspirations to quit the race, and unify endorsements around Biden.

We’re seeing the rapid consolidation of both support and delegates around Crazy Uncle Joe. If he wins Michigan next week (likely) and has a big win in Florida in two weeks (all but certain), he’s the Democratic nominee before we get more than halfway through March. And perhaps, the pieces are falling exactly as planned.

The Icosahedron #7 ft. Michael Cohen, Ph.D. on Bloomberg’s “Virtual Candidacy”

Bloomberg’s Virtual Candidacy

By Michael Cohen, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer

Money might not be able to buy elections, but it’s certainly helped launch Mike Bloomberg’s virtual candidacy for president of the United States. A man out of step with his current party, Bloomberg is an open oppo book for the others on the debate stage tonight. The former Mayor of New York, my hometown, used to be a Republican, used non-disclosures to silence women (and men) in his firm, and enforced “Stop and Frisk,” a policy of overt discrimination aimed at curbing the city’s crime problems of that era.

While we are focused on his campaign for president, Bloomberg pivoted toward the Democratic party with his greatest resource: money. He bought his way into ads with President Obama by funding anti-gun causes, bought his way into Democrat congressional candidates’ hearts and minds, and bought his way on stage at Emily’s List. Bloomberg’s personality may be flat, but so is cold, hard cash. At this point, the result of Bloomberg’s spending spree is third place, nationally, behind Vice President Biden, whose campaign is on life support after disastrous finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

If Bloomberg’s business plan was for Biden to fall and Bernie to rise, that’s happening, and it’s earned him an invitation to the debates. He might wish that didn’t happen. The genius of the ads for Bloomberg is that the voice over is better than the candidate’s own voice. Every time someone else speaks of him, he’s better for it. Every time his very New York local voice airs, it’s not great. His ad where he’s on the stump giving a speech is stale and his joke about Trump is not funny, foretelling what it’s going to be like tonight. Flat and humorless.

That’s going to be a problem for him against a field who has debated several times and are already in fighting shape. There’s no evidence that Bloomberg has any presence, debating chops, or ability to think well on his feet. Because he has skipped all four of the first nominating contests and the debates, he has got one shot to show he belongs and can lead the charge. It’s a recipe for underperforming expectations like Biden or Jeb Bush did. If he fails to handle the stage and the expected incoming, he becomes a wealthier New York version of Tom Steyer.

But if he does reasonably well, Bloomberg certainly has enough money to make campaign lives very complicated on Super Tuesday, specifically for former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar, who also banked on Biden’s fall meaning their rise. What is just as likely to happen, though, is that the minimal viable product launch tonight of candidate Mike Bloomberg is a final release – and a well-funded mess. You can’t win the presidency as an avatar. Ultimately, the business plan fades and what’s left is the real you.

The Icosahedron #6 ft. Bryon Allen, Ph.D. on the Iowa Caucuses

Thanks for reading our newsletter. In the wake of Monday’s first-in-the-nation debacle, Dr. Bryon Allen, Chief Research Officer, reminds us of why Iowa matters and how the character of each state’s primaries and caucuses should reflect each state’s sensibilities. It’s a compelling counter-narrative piece. In addition, you can read my piece on Medium where I critique the tech and the politics of having an app for “that” was ill-advised. For intelligence like this and much more, reply to this email and I’ll connect you with our outstanding team. I look forward to hearing from you!

Michael D. Cohen, Ph.D., CSO, WPA Intelligence

In Defense of Iowa

By Bryon Allen, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer

This was going to be a piece about the implications of *insert name here* winning the Iowa Caucuses, but I have to submit it and we don’t know who won. By the time you’re reading this we might, who knows?

As of late morning Tuesday, we don’t know who won Iowa, but we know who people think lost—the Caucuses themselves. A combination of frustrated candidate boosters (led by teams Bernie and Buttigieg), political operatives who have long hated the caucus process, and political scientists and election reform busybodies are all piling on Iowa.

But the Iowa Caucuses are good. They represent a type of community-based democracy that is particularly midwestern and rural. You get together in a school gym, a parish hall, or at the VFW with your neighbors and you argue a bit about the candidates. Then you visibly and publicly support someone. That’s a kind of democracy that is peculiar and special to its setting.

I like when states have systems that fit their character. I like that California has extremely long mail voting and then takes weeks or even months to count its ballots. It’s a perfect combination of come-as-you-are-when-you-want individualism and institutional incompetence. Even Joan Didion hasn’t captured the zeitgeist of California quite so well as its election system does. I like that Pennsylvania has a primary that technically binds none of its delegates.

It’s a wonderful and flagrant example of country’s character as a collection of sovereign states rather than as a central federal system with administrative cantons that we have so many different and weird ways of administering primaries.

The problem with Iowa isn’t Iowa, it’s what we want Iowa to do. We want a slow, rural community process to rapidly produce a centralized count to feed to beast of 24-hour news. We want it to go first and be gatekeeper to a nomination while the Democrats apparently wanted to foist off some post-modern political science experiment of three different “official” counts on a system that kind of meanders its way toward getting even one.

What the Democrats tried to do in Iowa obviously failed… and always had a high chance of failing. Trying to patch over a human administration challenge with a quick-and-dirty tech solution was always a recipe for hilarity, but I hope that doesn’t cause us to give up on caucuses, just give them a chance to be themselves. Maybe take a lesson from the caucuses instead. Go talk to your neighbors, have a potluck, the results will be along eventually.

The Icosahedron #5 ft. Trevor Smith, Ph.D. on political competition and Michael Cohen, Ph.D. on endorsement irrelevance. — Published 01/21/20

Thanks for reading our newsletter. This issue focuses on the political environment with pieces from Dr. Trevor Smith, Director of Research at WPA Intelligence and myself. Trevor looks at how competitive congressional races were in 2018 and what opportunities that provides our Republican Party in response. My piece opens with a look at the widelyheckled (by Democrats!) New York Times dual-endorsement and whether or not these kinds of endorsements matter. For intelligence like this and much more, reply to this email and I’ll connect you with our outstanding team. I look forward to hearing from you!

Michael D. Cohen, Ph.D., CSO, WPA Intelligence

Competition is Good
By Trevor Smith, Ph.D., Director of Research

Perhaps the laziest theory of American politics is that voters have become more polarized than ever and the political parties are now vessels of extremism. This theory has some observables that make sense on their face: the rise of extreme policies on the Left, the self-owned bias of the news that used to be impartial, and the effects of gerrymandering, which have theoretically sorted voters into safer districts. That all might be true but what really matters is elections.

What if I told you if congressional races were more competitive in 2018, a bad year for our party but the best one for democracy in a decade? Let’s take a 10% margin of victory as a benchmark for a competitive House race and look at the past four elections. How many of them, do you figure, would be considered “competitive?” I’ve done the math and it shows just how competitive of a year 2018 was among congressional races, removing at-large seats; an excellent opportunity to use data and messaging based on data to win back the House.

Sure, competitive districts, by this definition, almost halved from 2012 to 2016 but it rebounded to the tune of more than 2x in 2018 due to a motivated Democratic base. Again, the rebound was hard on the GOP, but as the party of competition this is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes made, listen to voters, and act accordingly. Running the same old campaigns are not going to work in 2020, regardless of who the Democrats run at the top of the ticket even if it is likely, in my view, a weak one.

Relying on President Trump’s support among blue collar voters is not going to be enough for your race. Instead, focus on who is going to vote and who they intend to choose. Understand who the persuadable voters are and who will vote for you if you get them to the polls on Election Day. What messages will matter most, do you know where your ad dollars should go, and on what platforms? That’s what we do best, put that altogether to enhance your chances of victory.

If you think you are in a non-competitive district, just remember that there were far more of them in 2016 than there were now. There is more opportunity now, not less. Ignore the noise of polarization and extremism and focus on the signals that will get you there by knowing which voters get you there. The question really comes down to this: what will you do to capitalize on these openings?

Endorsement Irrelevance
By Michael Cohen, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer

“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice,” Freewill by Rush.

By choosing to endorse both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, the New York Times unintentionally highlighted how insignificant newspaper endorsements are and how much opinions of voters matter more. Warren has dropped from her peak, now polling well behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, nationally and in early states; her odds of winning the nomination have plummeted. Klobuchar is a margin-of-error candidate, virtually everywhere. By endorsing two fading candidates, the New York Times has inadvertently chosen to benefit neither. This is peak endorsement irrelevance.

Pulling it back, what value do newspaper opinion section endorsements even provide candidates in an era of strong partisanship and polarization? Are these important signals to leverage or just campaign noise? This is something we research on behalf of our clients at WPA Intelligence. The consensus from newspapers themselves and our team’s experience is, well, not really. Moreover, in the runup to the 2016 election, Jeb Bush had 30 major endorsements while future President Donald Trump had none … and we all know how that turned out (please clap).

Somewhat more important signals are local leadership endorsements but, really, only to people who are well-connected to the political dynamics in their communities. At this point, Joe Biden’s decades-long Washington tenure has paid off in endorsements, where he leads Warren and Klobuchar by 207 to 77 and 50, respectively. Still, it’s who’s endorsing that matters, with Biden holding onto many of the endorsements gained through his association with Barack Obama, signaling to black voters, in particular, that he’s their best choice.

Still, normies don’t care. They don’t read the NYT or FiveThirtyEight. In fact, there is some evidence that a relatively small pool of moderates, who Biden and Klobuchar are courting, are actually low-information and low-participation voters, meaning that they’re not watching debates, aware of newspaper endorsements, or who their representatives will vote for in the primaries. These kinds of endorsements matter more within the pool of party activists rather than for external signaling to move voters.

So, does a NYT endorsement matter? No, but other endorsements can help with those voters, donors, and activists who pay attention to these kinds of developments. Endorsements certainly matter to political hobbyists, who believe they’re engaged and certainly follow news cycles and social media. They matter a bit if your bias aligns.

Will the NYT endorsements propel Warren or Klobuchar to the top of the polls in Iowa? No. Iowans still will make a choice and the NYT endorsement will sit where it deserves: irrelevant.

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