Oct 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Progressives' closing argument to focus on "freedom"

Screenshot of ad
Screenshot: "Protect Our Freedoms"

A coalition of progressive groups is launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to make a closing argument that sounds suspiciously like a Republican appeal from the pre-Trump era: Your fundamental freedoms belong to you.

Why it matters: The “Protect Our Freedoms” coalition's goal is to appeal to swing voters while also reinvigorating the anti-Trump coalition that flipped the House in 2018 and delivered the presidency to Joe Biden in 2020.

  • The group is seeking to get progressives on the same page in making the case to voters that the election is a choice between MAGA Republicans and the Democrats — and not a referendum on President Biden's first two years in office.
  • “We aren’t just talking to our own choir. We have a message that works across the ideological spectrum — the anti-MAGA majority,” said Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, co-founder of Way to Win, a national progressive advocacy group.
  • “People may not agree on everything,” she said of the sometimes fractured world of progressive politics. “But we agree that we can’t have Trump MAGA Republicans come to power."

Driving the news: The coalition, which includes some 30 groups, will start running ads tomorrow in a handful of contested congressional districts and key states, including North Carolina.

  • "Congress is meant to protect our freedoms, not take them away," says a middle-aged woman, speaking directly to the camera in an ad targeting Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), who is running for the Senate in North Carolina.

The big picture: All summer, Democratic candidates and consultants have been debating about the best way to both rev up their base and also appeal to independent voters who are concerned about the economy and the cost of living.

  • But then the motivating effect of Roe appeared to wear off. In the campaign’s closing weeks, Democrats have shifted their focus, emphasizing Republicans' plans to trim Social Security and Medicare. Biden now rails against MAGA Republicans at nearly every campaign event.

Go deeper: Since June, the “Protect Our Freedoms” coalition has been appealing to swing voters by using the language of liberty, including an initial $5 million ad buy, according to the New York Times.

  • They have also rigorously tested and refined their messaging.
  • “We got everyone to agree on a common methodology and a message that tells a story instead of a laundry list of issues,” said Tom Perriello, a former member of Congress who currently works with the Open Society Foundations.
  • "The contrast is effective,” he said. “It tests through the roof with both mobilizing the base and persuading independents and undecideds."
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