Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Anti-Trump Republicans fail to sway voters NYT
30 Sep 2023, 08:13 GMT+10

A group devoted to defeating the former president has reportedly admitted that its attack ads have had no effect

A US political action committee that has spent around $6 million on commercials attacking Donald Trump in key battleground states for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination has reportedly conceded that it's failing to influence supporters of the former commander-in-chief.

The group, called 'Win It Back', told its donors in a memo this week that all attempts to chip away at Trump's "conservative credentials" had been ineffective, the New York Times reported on Friday. The PAC spent more than $4 million on anti-Trump ads in Iowa and nearly $2 million in South Carolina, according to the newspaper, which obtained a copy of the memo.

"Even when you show video to Republican primary voters - with complete context - of President Trump saying something otherwise objectionable to primary voters, they find a way to rationalize and dismiss it," Win It Back chief David McIntosh said in the memo. "Every traditional post-production ad attacking President Trump either backfired or produced no impact on his ballot support and favorability."

McIntosh lamented that the commercials were failing to sway Trump supporters, even when they showed him "saying liberal or stupid comments from his own mouth." The group based its findings on testing of 40 anti-Trump commercials.

Trump is polling as far and away the leading candidate for the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination. He's currently supported by 63% of Republican voters, more than 50 percentage points ahead of the No. 2 contender, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, according to a Morning Consult poll released on Friday. Trump's support has increased by five percentage points since a poll taken before Wednesday's Republican presidential debate, which he didn't attend.

As the NYT noted, Win It Back's memo offers "little reassurance" to Republican candidates who are looking for lines of attack that might erode Trump's voter support. McIntosh said the PAC had failed to land an effective punch against Trump on a host of issues, ranging from his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic to his failure to build a border wall to his "refusal to fight woke issues." The group has employed many of the same arguments that DeSantis has used unsuccessfully against Trump.

McIntosh, a former Republican congressman from Indiana, also heads a prominent anti-tax group called the Club for Growth, which spent millions of dollars in a failed effort to block Trump from winning the party's 2016 presidential nomination. He told donors in this week's memo that attack ads targeting the ex-president must be careful not to cause a backlash by appearing to come from the perspective of a "Trump hater."

"Broadly acceptable messages against President Trump with Republican primary voters that do not produce a meaningful backlash include sharing concerns about his ability to beat President (Joe) Biden, expressions of Trump fatigue due to the distractions he creates and the polarization of the country, as well as his pattern of attacking conservative leaders for self-interested reasons," McIntosh said.


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