A GOP postmortem: What went so wrong in Pennsylvania?

“Every aspect of the 2022 election will be reviewed,” Lawrence Tabas, chairman of the state’s Republican Party, wrote in an email to supporters obtained by POLITICO about the autopsy. He added that his funding would help inform “clear messages about what we as Republicans stand for.”

The multi-pronged effort, which is being organized by the state’s top GOP donors, leaders and elected officials, represents the most comprehensive within-party attempt to chart a path back to success in Pennsylvania ahead of the presidential election in 2024. State Republicans failed to flip any congressional districts and lost the gubernatorial race, Senate contest and majority of seats in the state House last year.

“We didn’t do well at all. Here you have Biden with a lot of failures. Very high inflation—higher than it’s been in 40 years—gas prices, rising interest rates, small businesses under fire, and we have international problems that exist. And yet no red wave,” said Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.), which helps fund the autopsy. “We want the honest truth from God.”

Discovering the truth is one thing. Accepting it is another. And the state’s GOP’s ability to do just that will likely have a profound impact on its ability to help the party regain the White House in 2024. Pennsylvania is emerging as the swing state with the most electoral votes at stake. in the presidential race.

Pennsylvania will also play a key role in the upcoming battle for control of the Senate, with the incumbent Democrat Bob Casey on the ballot in 2024, while judges are up for election in the state this year.

Bob Asher, a top GOP donor in Pennsylvania who is also helping fund the autopsy, said he came up with the idea during discussions with other local Republicans after the election. He was struck, he said, by what he heard. Some officials told him that unspoken efforts — such as Democratic mail ads aimed at older voters arguing that Republicans would eliminate Social Security and Medicare — were actually major factors in the election. .

“I’m like, ‘I don’t think we’ve got the right poop…I don’t think we’ve got the right story,'” he said. “I want the truth about the problems in Pennsylvania and how we can look forward to trying to sit on the Supreme Court in 23.”

Another major goal of the autopsy, Asher said, is to figure out how to win back suburban areas of the state that have drifted away from Republicans in recent years, including vote-rich Philadelphia counties.

The stakes for the report are high not only for the upcoming elections, but also for the State Party itself. The GOP’s lackluster presentation in the 2022 cycle has spurred chatter from potential candidates seeking to challenge Tabas, whose term ends in 2025. No one has declared a bid yet.

“The county parties and the state party have become more of a social club with really well-meaning people rather than operations that help elect Republicans,” said a senior Pennsylvania GOP campaign official this cycle who has granted anonymity to speak frankly. “They need to get back to talking to friends and neighbors of the candidates, getting them to register and vote.”

In a statement, Tabas said, “Last year we executed record-breaking record-breaking campaigns and sweeping GOTV efforts, but moving forward, I call on our leaders to collaborate on the mission to transform what has been a mail-in voting deficit into a winning advantage. .”

Along with Asher and Meuser, other elected officials such as Rep. Lloyd Smucker and State Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward are helping fund the project.

Republicans insist they will use the postmortem to address sensitive topics. Meuser said the impacts of Trump and the “Stop the Steal” movement on the midterms “must” be examined, along with things like immigration and inflation. Republicans also said their analysis doesn’t shy away from examining how the end of Roe vs. Wade affected the election. Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, has made central his campaign his Republican opponent Doug Mastriano’s support for an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. In exit polls, a plurality of voters in Pennsylvania ranked abortion as their top issue.

“Obviously, this question played more of a role than most political pundits, especially Republicans — no, let’s just rephrase that, Republican pundits — gave it weight,” Meuser said. The question, he added, is, “How can you say that without being offensive? … For me, there is certainly a reasonable way to maintain my pro-life stance without being offensive to others.

Other initiatives launched by Pennsylvania Republicans in the wake of the 2022 midterm elections include establishing a vote-by-mail strategy.

After last year’s races, many Republicans in the state and nation came to the conclusion that their recent war on mail-in voting had cost them. The state’s GOP is launching a mail-in voting task force to examine the issue. According to an internal email, Rep. GT ThompsonState Treasurer Stacy Garrity, State Auditor General Timothy DeFoor and State House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler are among those who have joined the task force.

“Most people on the Republican side now recognize that if one party votes for 50 days and the other party votes for 1 p.m., the party that votes for 50 days will have a higher turnout,” Andy Reilly said, a national republican. Committee member in Pennsylvania who was also asked to serve on the task force. “We have to embrace it and convince Republican voters that the mail-in voting process has integrity, which means their vote will count.”

This is perhaps the lesson of 2022 that, at this point, the most Pennsylvania Republicans can agree on.

“What I can tell you definitively is that mail-in ballots and mail-in voting are a top priority for us,” Tabas said.


Politico

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