Cameron Webb, who served in the Obama and Trump administrations, was running against a Republican, Robert Good, who was underfunded and opposed gay marriage and birthright citizenship. But in the end, Webb’s message of strengthening health care and rising above partisanship was drowned out, and he lost by 6 points.
“My opponent only talked about three words: Defund the police,” Webb told a group of House Democrats on a private call this week, according to several sources on the line.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) top Democrats had braced for the GOP police focused ads. DCCC polled the issue over the summer as nationwide protests over social justice began dominating the headlines, finding it “incredibly damaging,” according to a Democratic strategist familiar with the data.
But it’s clear the GOP’s weaponization of left-wing slogans like “defund the police,” while important, was not the only reason that the party is on track to lose at least seven seats in the House.
Interviews with nearly three dozen lawmakers, aides and consultants reveal a growing acknowledgment that the party’s campaign arm made several key strategic errors: it underestimated Donald Trump’s popularity, relied too much on polls and failed to heed the warnings of its most vulnerable members.
Most endangered Democrats struggled to counter the flood of GOP ads on the issue: Republicans aired roughtly 70different broadcast ads that mentioned “defund the polie,” according to data from Advertising Analytics.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a top GOP super PAC, said they saw the early potential of those hits, making them at least somewhat confident they could help overcome the sheer amount of campaign cash that Democrats had.
Republicans were relentless as they aired 30-second attack ads that swarmed vulnerable incumbents. In red-leaning districts, such as Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s (D-N.Y.) in upstate New York, the “defund the police” ads emphasized violent protestors and looters. In a purple suburban Philadelphia seat held by GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who won reelection, the ads featured a mom who worried a smaller police budget would make her family less safe from robbers.
Democrats tried repeatedly to combat these law-and-order attacks. Some, like Rose, an Army veteran, vowed in a TV ad never to defund law enforcement. And money was not the issue — Democratic candidates were outspending their GOP opponents by a nearly 2:1 ratio in the final weeks. Yet they struggled to overcome the hits.
Rose, who conceded on Thursday, is among the nine Democratic incumbents who lost so far. As of Thursday, the House GOP was poised to gain seven seats.
Another thing that needs to be mentioned is this, Americans, regardless of party, don’t want to “Defund the Police.”