The 2018 midterms were arguably one of the most consequential elections in a generation — and Democrats had a historic night, flipping the greatest number of House seats since Watergate. TMG wanted to understand why.
To better understand the issues and messages driving the 2018 election, The Messina Group, in conjunction with Navigator, collected and analyzed communications from a variety of sources: campaign and PAC television ads, Tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts by candidates, op-eds written by candidates, candidate and party committee websites’ issues pages, and Facebook ads.
In our analysis, the dominant issue for both Democrats and Republicans was the economy. For Democrats, this election was about the economy and healthcare. For Republicans, this was about the economy and tax cuts; relying on the claim that their tax cuts help the economy and thereby help the American people.
Overall, Democrats were issue-focused and had a clear message on health care. They focused on protecting people with pre-existing conditions and Medicare for seniors. And, they attacked Republicans’ tax cut for the wealthy. Republicans, in contrast, relied on partisan rhetoric (“liberal”), attacks on Nancy Pelosi, were defensive about their health care position (with misleading claims about their stance on pre-existing conditions), touted their tax cut as a break for families, and used anti-immigrant rhetoric.
In the full report, TMG dove deeper into how Democrats and Republicans discuss key issues, including healthcare, taxes, and immigration, among other issues, and looked at how their communication played into the results.