Patriots Need to Turn to the Center
Memo to the Pennsylvania Patriots, if you want to win elections and change America, you’ll have to look to the Center. Election demographics have changed, and you’ll need to change with them. Independents decide who wins elections in today’s political arena. They occupy the Center of the political spectrum, and Patriots will have to turn to them if Republican candidates hope to win.
Republicans lost big, and the Patriots got their @#$ handed to them last November. That’s the reality, and the results speak for themselves. Here are the “highlights.” Shapiro crushed Mastriano to keep the Governorship blue for twelve years running. Fetterman, a physically incapable candidate more radical than Bernie Sanders, beat Oz by 4.9%, and Republicans lost the House. These losses, which broke records going back a century, were predictable.
Republicans and Patriots ran campaigns long on anger about the state of Pennsylvania and the nation but were short on substance and solutions. They justified our cause and made us feel good, but Republican virtue signaling didn’t matter to those who decided the outcomes.
Welcome to Pennsylvania politics when we run campaigns that only make us feel good as we lose.
Politics, as usual, are over for conservatives, but there’s a solid path forward that involves communicating with the voters who disconnected with parties. Republicans need to look to the Center, which doesn’t mean becoming less conservative. It means identifying who decides elections and how we communicate our Conservative message to them.
Independents decide elections nationwide, and they’re making a difference for Democrats. The numbers tell the story and teach hard lessons if we listen and learn.
Here are the PA voter registration stats according to party affiliation from the Commonwealth of PA November 2022 voter statistics: Democrats 46%, Republican 40%, and Independents 14%. According to a 2018 Pew Research Poll, 45% of Independents lean Left, while 34% lean Right. The numbers tell the story, Republicans can’t win elections in Pennsylvania without the Independent vote.
Republicans are disadvantaged based on voter registrations on two levels, makingit impossible for Conservatives to win relying on Republican registration alone. First, Democrats have a significant enough edge over Republicans based on simple registration numbers making it impossible for Conservatives to win without the Independent voters. Second, when we combine registered Democrats with Independents that lean left, 52% of PA voters are ideologically aligned with Democrat candidates. Independents provide an advantage to Democrats before campaigns start, which means Republicans can’t win elections alienating the majority of Independents.
David Winston’s analysis of the 2022 election for Roll Call demonstrates how determinative Independents are for elections past and present. Campaigns that appeal to the base and ignore Independents are out-of-date, out-of-touch, and end up in loss columns. This means any campaign that runs to the right to satisfy Republicans and Patriots, ignoring independents, loses. Don’t believe the numbers? Ask Doug Mastriano.
God bless Senator Mastriano, but I said publicly before he won the primary that his campaign would appeal to the right and lose big. And it did. Patriots were ecstatic they had Doug, but the campaign that spoke to them didn’t speak to Independents who decide elections. What happens when your message appeals to your conservative base and fails to speak to nearly 15% of the voters determining whether you won or lost? You lose by almost 15%. Oz ran a more measured campaign capturing more Independents. Still, the remaining independent vote allowed Fetterman’s left of Bernie agenda to represent PA. Independents are the most significant factor in deciding elections and the future of Pennsylvania.
The results of the 2022 elections were predicted before their outcome because PA voter demographics have a reality all their own. It was obvious to those who had eyes that were willing to see. And yet we lost, which means that the people who should have seen this coming didn’t, desperately wanting the politics of old to work today. They don’t. If Pennsylvania Republicans want to win, they need to consider how they connect with the single most important voters in the State.
Here’s what the Independents are telling us.
Independents are independent because they’re tired of politics as usual and are looking for solutions that work in today’s complex world. They focus on issues, not parties which is precisely why they tune out messaging meant for the party faithful to follow messaging that offers solutions. Messaging crafted to appeal to the anger and indignation of Conservatives speaks to the conservative base. But Independents are tired of the rhetoric and the candidates who take this route. They’ll listen to candidates offering solutions even when they are less palatable. The Mastriano campaign demonstrates this perfectly. Independents tell us they want to know how candidates will solve problems, and they have a point. Here’s how we respond.
Here are three points for Conservatives to consider reaching Independents.
Independents leave parties because party rhetoric focuses on vilifying the other side without offering solutions. They’re tired of attack ads and attack rhetoric. Attack ads are designed to rally and solidify the base. Telling someone to vote for Oz because Fetterman’s far-left agenda will destroy the Constitution throws red meat to those who are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore, but it doesn’t provide a concrete problem-solving road map. Campaigns need to become less attack-focused and more solution focused.
Independents are looking for clearly defined solutions for clearly identified problems. When given these, they listen and vote along solution lines, not party lines. Republicans have done a lousy job articulating a vision with solutions over the past decades. We need to become the party that demonstrates how it will solve the problems facing America.
Independents want to curb inflation, lower gas prices, have a strong defense and have better jobs. And they want someone to stand up to woke culture. Bill Maher’s anger that woke has gone too far is a message to Republicans that we have an opportunity. Independents are looking for the same America we are. We need to lead with the conservative ethos that provides the best solutions for the problems we face in our generation to Independents looking for leadership, not rhetoric.
Turning to the Center means a return to what Conservatives do best. Our greatest strength is our vision that provides the best solutions for America. We must stop clouding that vision with rhetoric that appeals to the base and alienates the people who decide our future. Independents tell us to return to what we’ve always done best: solving problems and building a nation. They’re right. Communicate this, and we can win.
 6 facts about U.S. political independents, John Laloggia, Pew Research Center, May 15, 2019. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/15/facts-about-us-political-independents/
 It was all about the independents, again. David Winston, Roll Call November 16, 2022. https://rollcall.com/2022/11/16/it-was-all-about-the-independents-again/
 GOP midterm messaging fell short with independent voters, CNN December 26, 2022, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/gop-midterm-messaging-fell-short-with-independent-voters.