The old newsroom maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads,” still proves to be true in today’s 24-hour news cycle, but it’s no longer just cable news deploying that strategy. An analysis of the midterm election shows it’s especially true of Republican candidates who leaned heavily into advertising focused on crime while glossing over voters’ top issue of inflation and the economy. This was even more evident in federal races where little can be done about the degradation of crime and public safety in mostly Democrat-run cities.
The goal of any campaign should be to find issues where candidates have strength over their opponents and where there are enough undecided voters to win over. At the same time, just because a party is trusted on an issue doesn’t mean that’s where it should fish for votes. This hyper-focus on a lower-tier issue – crime – over the top-tier issue – inflation and the economy – costs Republicans in 2022.
The 2024 election is cycle is already in full swing, and many declared Republican candidates, especially in the GOP presidential primary field, remain focused on slamming Democrats for an inarguably dismal performance on law and order. Yet, this is to the detriment of