Republicans might enter the 2018 midterm elections without having passed any major pieces of legislation — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an electoral game plan.
A new McClatchy report reveals that the GOP in 2018 will aim to make the election a referendum on the media, in part to take heat off of having to talk about President Donald Trump.
“The hope… is to convince Trump die-hards that these mid-term races are as much a referendum on the media as they are on President Trump,” McClatchy says of Republicans’ strategy. “That means embracing conflict with local and national journalists, taking them on to show Republicans voters that they, just like the president, are battling a biased press corps out to destroy them.”
Republican strategists interviewed for the story pointed out that Rep. Greg Gianforte’s assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs “energized GOP voters,” which makes them think attacking media figures would be a good way to stir up enthusiasm. The strategists emphasize, however, that they don’t want their candidates to go as far as Gianforte did by body slamming reporters and breaking their glasses.
“If you pick a fight with them, I think it kind of helps you, and I don’t think many people care,” explained Republican political consultant David Woodard.
At the moment, President Trump’s approval rating stands at under 40% in the Real Clear Politics polling average, while Democrats have nearly a 7-point lead in the average of polls for the generic ballot in 2018 congressional elections.