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DSCC Statement on PA-18 and Voters Holding Republicans Accountable

LA Times: Voters “disgruntled by the fact that corporations and the wealthy benefited more” from #GOPTaxScam

Politico: #GOPTaxScam may not be “a reliable vote-winner”

Washington Post: “When these spots didn’t move the needle, GOP groups stopped talking about them”

From Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Van Hollen: “The results in PA-18 reflect the fact that even in a deeply conservative district, voters know the truth about the GOP agenda: it is driving up costs for hardworking Americans. Republicans are responsible for a tax plan that boosts corporate executives at the expense of the middle class, raising health care premiums, jeopardizing preexisting condition coverage and putting the special interests first. We’re confident that in November, voters will hold every GOP Senate candidate accountable just as they did Rick Saccone last night.”

LA Times: After embarrassing election in Pennsylvania, Republicans wonder whether tax cuts will save them in November
By Cathleen Decker

Key Points:

  • The most dangerous outcome for Republicans in Tuesday’s special House election is not the prospect of a Democrat taking over one of their seats. It was the shrugging off by voters of the party’s biggest legislative achievement: the tax cut measure that Republicans hoped would be their major campaign message as they head toward a turbulent midterm election.
  • [The tax plan] seemed to have stalled as an election issue in Pennsylvania, leading Republicans to shift away from it late in the campaign in search of another topic to energize supporters of state legislator Rick Saccone.
  • Groups airing ads to benefit Saccone steered many of their pitches onto more visceral turf in the closing weeks of the campaign, a sign they were searching for more-potent messages. A Democrat familiar with ad purchases said Republican spending on television and radio amounted to about $8 million by Monday, with most of the newer ads dropping mention of the tax plan.
  • The shift in strategy echoed a finding in recent polls: While the tax plan has grown more popular since its December passage, it has not demonstrated that it has the power to persuade meaningful swaths of voters. Nothing in Tuesday’s results, either, suggested a magnetic strength.
  • Those numbers, Murray said, spoke to the skepticism of voters who, even if they might see some benefit themselves, were disgruntled by the fact that corporations and the wealthy benefited more.

Read the full article here.

Politico: Republicans abandon tax cut message in Pennsylvania special election
By Kevin Robillard

Key Points:

  • Republicans have backed away from their signature tax cut bill in the final days of a closely watched special House election in the Pittsburgh suburbs — even though it’s the very accomplishment on which they had banked their midterm election hopes.
  • If the tax law isn’t a reliable vote-winner, it means Republicans may have to find different midterm messaging… The Pennsylvania race will mark the second major contest of the cycle, following the Virginia governor’s race, where Republicans abandoned a tax cut-focused message to hammer a Democrat over immigration and crime.
  • Days before his group aired its first ads in the race, Bliss [of Congressional Leadership Fund] wrote a memo arguing the tax fight would be the signature issue of the midterms in January. “There is no positive outcome in November if we do not show that we cut taxes for the middle class,” he wrote in January. But his super PAC has stopped airing ads about the tax cuts.

Read the full article here.

Washington Post: The Daily 202: Pennsylvania special election shows GOP still hasn’t found a winning midterms message
By James Hohmann

Key Points:

  • The bigger reason that the savviest GOP operatives in town are freaking out right now, though, [over the results in PA-18,] is that the results underscore the degree to which the party has been unable to hone in on a message that can reliably win races in this environment.
  • Republicans tried to run on the tax cuts, which they’ve promised for months will be the centerpiece of their 2018 messaging. Commercials highlighted Lamb’s opposition to reform and relief for the middle class. When these spots didn’t move the needle, GOP groups stopped talking about them.
  • Something similar happened in last year’s Virginia governor’s race. Republican Ed Gillespie initially made a proposal for tax cuts the centerpiece of his campaign. When that failed to excite conservatives, he embraced divisive wedge issues.

Read the full article here.

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