GOP Candidates Echo Trump's Culture War Battle Cry

President Trump's most recent spat with the National Football League seemed to signal how he plans to feature the culture wars in his midterm campaign messaging. And for some GOP candidates whose fortunes will depend on a mobilized party base, that's just fine.

While Republicans on Capitol Hill often gripe about the president's inclination to veer off message — he literally tossed out the script during a tax reform event in West Virginia earlier this year to instead riff on immigration — some party strategists acknowledge its appeal among their voters.

"Trump's tax cuts are helping millions of Americans, but voters are going to want to know how Republicans are going to continue to fight for them because they feel their values are still under assault by liberal elites,” says one GOP operative familiar with Senate campaigns. “Ultimately, the 2018 Senate midterms are going to be fought on the cultural battlefield -- guns, abortion, illegal immigration, and values -- which is bad news for red-state Democrats."

Midterms are essentially referendums, a chance to register complaints with a vote. But how do you get voters riled up enough to vote against something when your party controls all levers of government? Negative partisanship tends to be the answer. In other words, the drive to get party voters to the polls is fueled by a dislike for the other side or their policies.

"We've entered an era of very … base-oriented -- and, in fact, base-only -- politics," says Florida GOP strategist Rick Wilson. "If you can't talk about something is good for you, talk about something that's bad for the other guy. ... It's an easy go-to."

 Read more at Real Clear Politics

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