Defeating MAGA Mayhem
By Sarah Dohl, Indivisible Co-Founder and Chief Campaigns Officer
Today, I want to talk to you about what groups in Pennsylvania are doing to hold their resident MAGA Republicans accountable and an early look at some of our plans in the weeks ahead.
Real talk: I’m also going to ask you to chip in to fund this work in Pennsylvania and all of Indivisible’s plans to win in November — so if you’d rather cut to the chase and chip in $10 now (we’ve got ads going to print TOMORROW), you can click here. Otherwise, keep reading (I swear it’ll be worth it).
Over the last several weeks, our team here at Indivisible National has been working closely with a handful of groups in the Keystone State to run a pilot program to raise awareness around the right-wing’s out-of-touch, deeply unpopular, extremist MAGA agenda and take control of the narrative.
Today, I want to peel back the curtain a bit and talk to you about why.
Democrats have a MAGA Messaging Problem
We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we haven’t defeated MAGA mayhem. The criminal conspiracy to overthrow our government has birthed a movement of election deniers seeking power everywhere. A rising local right-wing movement is picking fights at the school board level, capitalizing on classrooms to stage fights around critical race theory, book bans, censoring history, attacking teachers, and targeting LGBTQ kids. At the national level, far-right extremists on the Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade and are signaling that they don’t plan to stop there (hint: Republicans will pass a nationwide abortion ban and come after contraception, gay marriage, and more if we don’t stop them).
Unfortunately, despite all of this, public perception of MAGA Republicans doesn’t reflect these extremist views. The national political conversation has been dominated by the struggles of the Biden administration, and off-year elections in places like Virginia suggest that at least some Republicans can successfully capitalize on the right-wing backlash energy while delinking their brands from Trump. In addition, the new wave of locally-led, nationally resourced right-wing organizing targeting so-called “culture war” issues (looking at you, Moms for Liberty) is translating into tangible impacts on school boards and local politics — and making inroads with some of our voters.
If a tree radicalizes in the forest, does anyone hear it? Part of the reason that MAGA Republicans are not paying a significant price for what they’re doing is that folks are not hearing about it — or they’re not hearing about it enough, in consistent and persuasive ways that make it relevant to their lives. Polling indicates that extremist positions on abortion, banning books, and election denial are wildly unpopular. But they also suggest that most Americans have not been hearing much about these issues. We do not have the Fox News right-wing feedback loop. And, even in ostensibly non-partisan media, stories are often delivered within a “both sides” frame that legitimizes dangerous and wrong positions.
TLDR: If Democrats don’t go on offense to reveal the most extreme, unpopular positions of Republican politicians and pursue an ongoing, escalating narrative about it, we will lose in November.
That’s where Indivisible groups in Pennsylvania come in. That’s also why we really need you to chip in a few bucks to help fund the work to go on offense against MAGA extremism and all of our work to win in November.
Defeating MAGA Mayhem in PA-01 and PA-10
To understand the plan, you’ve got to understand two (really important) poll numbers.
In PA-01, MAGA Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s support drops like a rock when voters learn about his anti-abortion views:
The poll, which was conducted after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, said Fitzpatrick led [Ashley] Ehasz by seven percentage points (45 percent to 38 percent) when asked an initial question about who voters would back in November’s midterms. However, once the survey respondents learned of Fitzpatrick’s anti-abortion views, Ehasz gained a massive surge in support, moving to a 10-point lead over the Republican (47 percent to 37 percent).
Obviously, Indivisible groups in PA-01 are going to spend every day from now until November 8 reminding voters about it.
And in PA-10, groups are busy making sure voters know just how many times Rep. Scott Perry’s name has been mentioned during the bipartisan January 6th hearings (it’s a lot). Because, as it turns out, a coup is not only very unpatriotic — it’s extremely unpopular:
Over the July Fourth recess, Indivisible groups and their partners in both districts went on offense to make sure as many people as possible know about their MAGA members’ extreme positions on abortion and January 6th.
Indivisible Bucks County followed Rep. Fitzpatrick around four different July Fourth parades with a mobile billboard to make sure he couldn’t run from his extreme position on abortion.
Meanwhile, in PA-10, a coalition of groups, including Hershey Indivisible Team and Indivisible York, put together a “Perry is No Patriot” event on the steps of the York County Administration building to call out Rep. Perry for his role in the insurrection.
Constituents in both of these districts understand that if we’ve got any chance of winning in November, knocking on doors and texting voters isn’t going to be enough (but, of course, we have to do that too!).
They understand that to win, we’ve got to make sure persuadable voters understand what kind of MAGA extremism they’re dealing with; they’ve got to make the choice in November as stark as possible. That means building on the work that started over the July Fourth recess and pursuing a relentless, unforgiving narrative on their home turf that shows voters the wildly unpopular views, positions, and actions of Reps. Fitzpatrick and Perry. Not just one event. Not just one story. Story after story after story.
So, what now?
Well, that’s where you come in.
Continuing the Fight in Pennsylvania (and Defeating MAGA Mayhem Nationwide)
This week and next week, we’re backing up our groups in PA-01 and PA-10 with the next piece of their campaign: two full-page newspaper ads in the three largest newspapers in the districts calling out Rep. Fitzpatrick for his extremist views on abortion and Rep. Perry for his role in the insurrection. Click on the links to check out the ads!
But here’s the truth: When we budgeted for this year, running a pilot and scaling a nationwide program to go on offense against MAGA extremism wasn’t something I planned. I’m thrilled to see how excited Pennsylvania groups are about these tactics and how many different, creative ways they’re getting involved. But all the rolling mobile billboards, event signs, recruitment SMS messages, and other group support costs for the pilot are currently unbudgeted. The newspaper ads we’re running over the next two weeks in Pennsylvania will cost $13,143 alone, which means I need your help.
If you’ve saved your information with ActBlue Express Lane, your donation to Indivisible Action will go through immediately:
Over the next several weeks, we’ll continue to work with groups on the pilot and roll out a new Defeating MAGA Mayhem Guide (y’all know we love Guides) for other groups across the country who want to go on offense against their own MAGA candidate. And if we’ve done it right, we think it’s a plan that can work to go on offense no matter what races you’re focused on (whether that’s school board, state legislature, governor, or congressional races!). We’ll share best practices, invite you to trainings (Birddogging! Laughtivism!), give you tested messaging, and more.
But to do it, we really need your help.
I’ve been saying for months that it’s time for Democrats to go on offense. And, I really do believe that coupled with all the door knocking, text messaging, postcarding, and phonebanking we already have planned, this is our best chance to win in November.
Really proud to be in this work with you.