Liberal Groups Spent $67 Million With The Lincoln Project. The GOP Super PAC Promised It Would Shrink Trump’s Base. It Never Happened.
The Lincoln Project was a group of longtime Republican operatives depicting themselves as anti-Trump stalwarts.
The group was co-founded by Steve Schmidt who managed John McCain’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. Schmidt also publicly boasted that he led the campaigns to help George W. Bush install right-wing judges on the Supreme Court.
Schmidt’s mixed history as a GOP operative should have been a warning to the DNC and other liberal groups. Unfortunately, the Democrats let hope cloud their objectivity.
The Democrats paid the Lincoln Project nearly $67 million. Democrats could have spent the cash elsewhere and more effectively. Namely, on down-ballot races.
The Lincoln Project Didn’t Deliver What They Promised
Schmidt and the Lincoln Project told liberals that the group would win over “independent-leaning men, those college-educated Republicans, the suburban Republican women.”
The result wasn’t what the Lincoln Project promised and the Lincoln Project’s campaign was a waste of money. Donald Trump won more Republican votes than he did in 2016 and Democrats again lost congressional seats. Democrats also failed to win control of the senate.
In addition, Democrats may have caused serious long term damage to themselves.
Democrats failed to gain majorities in state legislatures.
2020 was a pivotal year for Democrats to win down-ballot state-level races. Most state legislatures control legislative and congressional redistricting. Congressional and legislative districts are being redrawn next year due to the decennial census.
As a result, state-level Republicans will now be in a position to draw favorable district maps that benefit the GOP for the next five election cycles.
The Lincoln Project’s YouTube videos lampooning Trump received millions of views and endless promotion on MSNBC. The ads may have delighted Trump’s opponents. However, they proved ineffective in the group’s stated goal. Trump actually increased his share of the Republican vote in 2020 as compared to 2016.
Trump received support from 91% of Republicans according to a Fox News Voter Analysis. Although Biden outperformed 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton in suburban areas, Trump won a higher percentage of white women in 2020.
The Lincoln Project Failed To Focus On The Economy
The Lincoln Project forgot former Bill Clinton Campaign Manager James Carville’s famous quote during the trying economic times of 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Exit polls on election day showed the largest plurality of voters saw the economy as the top concern not Trump’s character. Trump won 82% of those voters.
Yet, the Trump campaign took the opposite approach. Trump invested heavily in economy-themed ads. National Public Radio noted that in the final weeks of the campaign, Trump’s attacked Biden over trade and the economy.
Many of the Lincoln Project’s videos were focused on making Trump look like a buffoon. However, people already knew this. 73% of voters said a candidate’s positions on the issues were more important in their presidential vote than a candidate’s personal qualities.
The group did put out some economy-focused ads in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa, as part of its “Mourning in America” series. However, the ads were more bleak than compelling. They also failed to show why Joe Biden Would be better for the economy.