Earlier this summer, one Democratic media consultant posited a theory that early and effective positive messaging was an under-appreciated asset for Democratic candidates. Given President Biden’s low approval ratings and dour economic mood, the one thing a candidate could help control for was their own ‘brand’ identity.
Last week, Republican pollster David Winston came to the same conclusion. In his column for Roll Call, Winston wrote that the GOP's "election problems are strategic more than tactical. Mail-in and early voting, while worth exploring, are convenient scapegoats that miss the bigger problems: an overreliance on outdated, negative messaging when voters want positive solutions to their problems, and campaign strategies based more on personality than policy."
In other words, simply running hundreds of millions of dollars tying Democrats to the unpopular president wasn’t enough to beat them. Republicans needed to give voters a reason to support Republican candidates beyond being a check on an unpopular president.
To test this theory about the value of positive messaging, I asked the campaign ad tracking service, AdImpact to categorize the percentage of ads run by
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