'Playing footsie with anti-vaxxers': Here’s a breakdown of the GOP’s new COVID playbook for 2022 midterms

'Playing footsie with anti-vaxxers': Here’s a breakdown of the GOP’s new COVID playbook for 2022 midterms
Mitch McConnell/Shutterstock

Since the onset of the pandemic, Republicans have expressed opposition toward COVID mitigation recommendations and most recently, vaccine mandates and passports. But now, Republicans have found a way to flip the script on COVID — just in time for the 2022 midterms.

According to a new piece published by NBC News' Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki, the Republican midterm playbook consists of three parts.

"The GOP’s Covid playbook has three parts. Republicans see the issue as energizing in primary contests while also providing a general election launching pad to reach independent voters, who polls show are souring on government institutions, mandates, and experts," Caputo and Korecki wrote.

"And it enables the GOP to criticize Biden for not ending the pandemic — even as Republicans fight mask requirements and after they blocked one of his vaccination mandates," they added. "Republicans are also less likely than Democrats and independents to be vaccinated, a frustration for Biden backers who feel the president is being punished for the GOP’s intransigence."

They also noted how the political paradigm has changed between both political parties. While Democratic lawmakers are still focused on safety and the enforcement of mandates, Aliza Astrow, a political analyst with the Democratic think tank, Third Way, is explaining the Republican shift.

“The tide is shifting. ... Republicans see an opportunity, unfortunately,” said Astrow.

Now, Republican lawmakers are emphasizing "elemental concepts of freedom and the economy, gearing the messages to businesses that want to stay open and workers who want to stay employed."

Caputo and Korecki wrote, "Republicans are campaigning on the coronavirus, looking to harness the anger of the conservative base and a growing sense of broader voter fatigue with masks and hybrid schooling. It’s a strategy backed up in polls and focus groups."

They also highlighted how Republicans are targeting parents, "particularly the suburban moms whose support Trump hemorrhaged and whom Republicans see as persuadable by stoking fears of further school closures."

Republican strategist Todd Harris explained this tactic. “The ever-present undercurrent is the economy,” Harris said, adding, "But if you really want a suburban mom’s head to explode, talk about keeping schools closed.”

Recent poll results also suggest that Republicans' approach may align with independent voters. Per the NBC News report:

"In all three polls, Republicans and independents were often more aligned in their wish to move on compared to Democrats, who consistently are more vaccinated and yet more worried about the virus."

While Republicans may believe this approach is a step in the right direction, Democratic pollster Joel Benenson explained why it may backfire and work in Democrats' favor. He argued that Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) "run the risk of alienating voters in the middle, 'which is where Joe Biden won.'”

“There are ways to communicate this and put Republicans on defense,” Benenson said as he warned that Republicans could still be held accountable for “playing footsie with anti-vaxxers and opposing reasonable safety measures.”


Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}