Republican primary candidates who have tightly embraced Donald Trump in their bid to win primaries in their respective states may be painting themselves into a corner if they win and then have to appeal to independent voters in the general election in November, according to a new report from Politico.
Conservative candidates in battleground states are increasingly giving up on trying to win over wavering voters, the report claims, and are instead focusing on getting the largest share of die-hard supporters of the president whom they can count on to show up on primary day.
As Allison wrote, "In many cases, facing their own fiercely competitive general election races, Republicans running this year are largely foregoing appeals to the center, instead doubling down on conservative positions — from opposing popular bipartisan reforms to celebrating the rollback of abortion rights," before adding, "... it shows their apparent belief that the electorate now prefers fighters, not peacemakers."
According to Missouri-based GOP campaign consultant Gregg Keller, "Voters are interested in candidates who aren’t interested in being members of the go-along, get-along part."
However, that approach may have its pitfalls when the short window before the November midterm election rolls around and candidates have to broaden their appeal to all voters in states that are not Republican strongholds.
"States like Arizona and New Hampshire, where the Republican nominees will be decided in August and September primaries, respectively, don’t allow candidates much of an opportunity to ease away from a hyper-partisan message before the November election," the Politico report states. "While it’s common for candidates competing in a primary to take extreme positions on issues, said Chuck Coughlin, a Republican strategist in Arizona, failing to shift afterward could cost them."
As Coughlin explained, "You don’t have much time to be able to change your narrative. That’s going to hurt some of these candidates who are so adherent to this right-wing philosophy or this populist philosophy — ‘I’m not going to brook any compromise.’ That’s not going to be helpful to a candidate in the general. Not out here.”