How Republicans Can ‘Thread the Needle’ in Purple States

For our friends running in competitive blue and purple states, all they are hearing this cycle is “Well, if there was ever a year to do it…” 

Well, that’s true. Our national survey shows that very clearly.  

Unsustainable inflation, never-ending tax increase proposals, calls to defund our local law enforcement, and relentless “woke” cancel culture has more closely aligned the middle to Republican candidates than we have seen in recent memory.  

As a result, nearly every candidate in competitive and left-leaning districts asks me the same question; “How do I thread the needle, walk the tightrope, (insert metaphor of choice), to win a Republican primary and maintain electability for a November general election?” While this is no easy task, there are proven tools at your disposal that will widen the opening at the end of the needle.  

If you’re familiar with Cygnal, you know how passionate we are in understanding voters’ emotions and how those emotions drive their decisions at the ballot box. We, as human beings, make decisions emotionally, then justify logically after the fact.  

To self-described center-right candidates in Republican primaries: It doesn’t matter how well positioned you are to appeal to swing voters in November if you don’t win your primary. You must ignite a fire and elicit an emotional response in order to inspire voters to come vote for you. The reason President Trump was so successful is because he made working class people believe that he understood people like them. He knew their frustrations and positioned himself to be the voice they felt they didn’t have.  

People can be passionate, empathetic, emotional, and in the center-right of the political spectrum. It is not a binary choice. Use Cygnal’s proprietary Emotive Analysis to figure out not just the WHAT, but the WHY. Find out what emotions voters are feeling and show them, using their own words, that you get it. Utilize emotional messaging at the door, on digital, mail, and on TV.  

To self-described most conservative candidate in the race: After months of campaigning in rooms full of passionate and partisan-minded voters, it’s easy to get swept up and forget there is a D+6 race awaiting in November.  

Winning straw polls at local Republican meetings does not lead to flipping blue districts red. Test your messaging and ads to make sure you are not disqualifying yourself. Don’t make your Republican primary meaningless by creating an environment where you eliminate the possibility of winning the race you actually signed up for. Find vacuums in the electorate that no candidate has targeted properly. Determine what works with which audiences, understand the intensity of support and reach of your opponents, and where are the untapped geographies that you can shore up a nomination from.  

I love working blue and purple states. It’s hard work and with such a small margin for error that when you pull it off; you know how exceptional your effort was. If it was easy, everyone would do it.  

But don’t make a hard task even harder. Use the tools at your disposal: polling, predictive analytics, ad testing, and emotive analysis, just to name a few. Not sure how to use them? Give me a call or send me an email, I’m here to help.  

If there was ever a year to do it…. 

 Chris Lane, Director of Client Strategy
[email protected]