- Sarah Chamberlain
What we mean when we talk about 'Main Street Republicans'
I spend a lot of time talking to our 70 Members and to a growing number of Main Street Republicans who looked at what happened in Virginia, New Jersey, and other places and suddenly saw a lane where they can successfully run for election in historically Blue districts and protect historically Red ones.
Let’s remember that the GOP narrowed the Democratic House majority in 2020 with swing-seat wins, which means voters were distinguishing between Republicans on the ticket. Candidates will equal success in 2022 and beyond by talking about the issues that the former President tapped into in 2016 but doing so in a constructive, civil way.
Glenn Younkin provided a perfect model in Virginia for how to run as a Republican in 2022. He didn’t hug the former President and he didn’t criticize him. He stayed focused on economic and educational issues that have emerged during Biden’s presidency, outlining specific platforms centered on schools and crime and quality of life.
That approach was a winner, particularly with women. We saw that Main Street Republicans will embrace campaigns where Republicans run with the right candidate, the right messages, and data-driven tactics. We also saw that suburban Republican women and independents who lean Republican still want to be Republicans.
Here's what we have also learned one year into the Biden presidency through polling, media reports, and conversations with a variety of experts:
If you’re a Democrat and President Biden won your district by 16 points, you’re likely to be in a competitive race in 2022. Thanks to Biden’s first-year performance, you are no longer safe.
Suburban women never left the Republican Party. The former President wasn’t a factor in most districts when it came to downstream races.
Both sides – but particularly Republicans -- have found President Biden more progressive than they thought he would be, but Republicans are too busy killing each other to really focus on that. But thankfully, at the same time, Democrats don’t have a coherent message.
Yes, there are Republicans who are creating political headwinds for the GOP, particularly in suburban areas where we have struggled over the past four years, and yes, they’re sucking up all the air while others continue to do the hard work.
At the Republican Main Street Partnership, we understand that some Republicans feel they don’t have a party anymore. But they don’t want to be Democrats and they do want to support center-right policies that don’t require them to embrace the former President.
True Main Street Republicans – like our Members -- believe in a strong military and a common-sense government, They believe that while some social programs work, many more cost way too much. Real Republicans – Main Street Republicans -- believe in the rule of law being applied equally, free-market capitalism, and less regulation on business. They are business-friendly, seeing small businesses as the backbone of our economy and larger businesses as critical employers.
RMSP Members work hard in their districts and focus on passing legislation and finding federal support for valuable programs back home. They believe that voters deserve results, not rhetoric. They don’t expect their constituents to agree with everything they believe, but they are actively listening to those voters and taking it all into account before voting.
They believe that states have the right to determine what their citizens want, and that Democrats should not be using their majority as an opportunity to impose free-spending legislation. In fact, there are Senators within the other party who clearly agree with us on this issue.
Main Street Republicans are the party’s small-town, rural, and small-business supporters. They tend to define themselves along fiscal issues rather than social conservativism, and it’s not wrong to define them as less extreme than some Republicans.
Washington Democrats are out of touch with the concerns of Main Street Americans and without a clear message on the issues that affect those voters beyond “spend, spend, spend.” But Main Street Democrats often find they agree with the views of Main Street Republicans when they sit down and talk.
Republicans will prevail and take back the House this November. The Democrats – and particularly the President – can brag about turning around the economy, but the Washington Post did a good job pointing out that the massive job and wage gains the Administration is touting come back to earth when you add some context.
Given his other failures to implement sweeping policy changes, President Biden hitched his wagon to those economic gains in 2021, essentially jumping off a 20-story building and, as he passed the 10th floor, shouting “so far, so good.”
The Post pointed out that the numbers are distorted because the recovery isn’t complete and as a rule the labor market has a much easier time regaining lost jobs than it does creating new ones. More than 1.5 million Americans retired earlier than expected during the pandemic; hundreds of thousands more have left the workforce because of health concerns or childcare issues; and others have lost unemployment benefits and are trading high-paying jobs for part-time work. But Biden has also presided over The Great Resignation and his claims of success leave out the fact that the pandemic exacerbated existing labor-market inequities, the Post wrote.
This country needs a uniter. President Ronald Reagan made people feels hopeful and positive about themselves and the country. We need to return to that “shining city on the hill.” We can publicly disagree with the President on how to run a government, but we need to do it with civility...and that’s what Main Street Republicans will continue to do leading up to the midterms.
Main Street photo credit: Olivia Hutcherson (Upslash)