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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arrives for a Republican press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republicans, defined by one thing and one man for four-plus years, see a new, unifying platform to run on in the 2022 elections and potentially beyond.

The blueprint: Republicans tell us the work-in-progress plan argues that Biden Democrats are soft on crime, soft and ineffective on illegal immigration, and reckless and wrong with government spending.

  • "That's how we win back the [House] majority," a top GOP aide told me. "When we talk about Republican committee chairs, we talk about 'when' not 'if.'"

The big picture: Each topic can be backed by actual policies, instead of drafting off Donald Trump’s cultural grievances and fanatical allegations of stolen elections, top officials tell us.

The hitch: Um, Trump. He’s still the Pied Piper of modern Republicanism — and fixated on litigating the past, not legislating the future.

  • Last night in Wellington, Ohio, at his first post-election rally, Trump spent 94 minutes marinating in lies of the past, and teased a 2024 run — framed as winning the White House for the "third time."

A top Democratic official told me: "The most popular policy we have is taxing rich people. Why did Biden outperform in Macomb County [Mich.] and York Pa.? Because populism works. Biden's 'buy America, tax the corporations' message moves these voters."

  • On crime, the official told me that "voters care, but there's no sign they trust the GOP more than us. Trump ran this play in 2020 and lost."

Zoom out: The Democratic messaging group Future Majority in May released a deck identifying areas where Republicans hold an advantage:

  • Of the issues polled, "defunding the police," "open borders" and "reparations for slavery" were by far the biggest turnoffs for both independents and voters in general.
  • Republicans bested Democrats on jobs and the economy, gun rights, and "keeping you and your family safe."
  • The poll, Future Majority wrote in its report on the findings, "shows voters, especially Independents, believe Democrats overspend."

The bottom line: Democrats are internally flagging their vulnerabilities on the very issues central to the GOP's strategy to retake power next year.

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Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
Sep 17, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado Republicans want to cancel 2022 primary vote

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A majority of the Colorado GOP's governing committee is expected to vote Saturday to cancel next year's Republican primaries and opt for an internal process to pick candidates in the 2022 election.

Why it matters: The move would prevent 1.8 million unaffiliated voters — a plurality of those registered in Colorado — from casting ballots in the Republican primary elections next year.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.