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OPINION

Republicans Need to Retool the Party Platform, Prioritize Kitchen Table Issues For Support of Americans

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

As elected leaders and political experts continue to dissect the outcome of the 2022 midterms, one thing is crystal clear: the results represent a disappointment for Republicans.

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It was an election cycle that should have been a referendum on a president anchored by a 42% approval rating, record-high inflation, and a looming recession. But instead of hammering the president and his party on kitchen table issues, Republican candidates in closely contested elections centered their campaigns around highly-partisan political problems, a choice that cost them critical support among the most powerful voting bloc in the country: older voters. However, even though a red wave never materialized on Election Day, Republicans won a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, which has given them a seat at the table in Washington and a chance to show Americans that they can deliver. Now, with a new Congress set to convene in the new year, Republicans should take the opportunity they have to regain lost ground with older Americans and retool the party agenda to put kitchen table issues front and center.  

Americans over the age of 50 are difference-makers in every election, and they’re often responsible for determining outcomes in must-win battleground states. This year was no exception. Data shows that these highly-motivated Americans made up an outsized portion of the electorate in November, representing nearly two-thirds of all voters on Election Day, and in battleground districts in critical swing states, Republican candidates who failed to campaign on kitchen table issues hemorrhaged support from older voters. 

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On election night, in House races rated as ‘lean’ or toss up,’ Republicans were dragged down by calls from prominent party officials to cut Social Security and Medicare, and GOP leaders didn’t put together an agenda that adequately addressed the concerns of older Americans. According to recent polling, voters over the age of 50 – who overwhelmingly selected issues like inflation and threats to Social Security and Medicare as their top concerns – shifted away from Republicans by 12 points compared to surveys conducted over the summer. 

However, despite a disappointing outcome for the GOP on Election Day, there’s a silver lining in the midterm results for congressional Republicans. Older voters, our country’s electoral kingmakers, have made it clear that they’re ready for Washington to take on the issues that affect everyday Americans – and now House Republicans have the power to show them they can deliver. That means abandoning unpopular proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare and doubling down to protect essential programs that millions of Americans rely on. And instead of announcing upcoming investigations into politically charged issues, Republicans should propose legislative solutions to cut costs for American families and combat rising inflation. 

Tony Fabrizio, a strategist who served as Donald Trump’s pollster in 2016, recently made this point to the New York Times and said all Republicans have to do if they want to win in the future is “get on board with prescription drugs” and “stop talking about touching that third rail of Social Security and Medicare.”

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After the midterms, Republicans have a clear path forward to shore up their support with older voters – stick to the kitchen table issues every American cares about. An agenda filled with policy proposals based around culture war issues and plans to cut programs that voters rely on isn’t a winning strategy, and it won’t help Republicans retake the Senate or maintain control of the House in the next election cycle.

With a House majority, the GOP has a chance to reshape its agenda to include popular initiatives, like prescription drug pricing reform, and prioritize problems like unaffordable housing costs. Republicans have an opportunity to show voters that they can solve the most pressing issues facing everyday Americans – now they have to deliver.

Matt Mackowiak is the president of Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration, and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran, and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.

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