What will be 2022’s hot political topics? Look at these ads by GOP senators for clues
Republicans running in 2022 are emphasizing their ties to Trump and criticizing Big Tech, Fauci and Democrats’ ‘socialist agenda’ and immigration
If the Facebook ads that incumbent Republican senators are running are any guide, next year’s midterm elections are set to be a showdown about Big Tech, former President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as immigration.
Republicans up for reelection next year are already running digital ads to raise money and grow their mailing lists, and while there are unknown issues and political controversies that will yet shape the 2022 midterms, the topics incumbents chose to run on now act as a preview of the races to come. For now, it’s heavy on culture war issues, the border and fierce loyalty to Trump.
Here’s a look at what issues Republicans are emphasizing based off ads from May and June, according to Facebook’s ad library:
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah
Lee — who’s facing primary challengers including former state Rep. Becky Edwards and former Gov. Gary Herbert’s deputy chief of staff and communications director Ally Isom — has honed in on issues like the border, holding Big Tech companies accountable, and “cancel culture.” “The Left continues to celebrate the cancel culture,” reads one ad. “We must fight back!”
Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri
Hawley, an early leader in the Republican Big Tech backlash, has lately been tying his crusade directly to Trump. Trump is featured heavily in recent Hawley ads paid for the by National Republican Senatorial Committee, including some that literally advertised Trump’s then-forthcoming social network. “President Trump launching his own social media site,” one ad reads. “Would you join it?”
Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho
Crapo has also run ads promoting Trump’s social network, as well as ads asking supporters to help protect the borders by contributing to his campaign. “DONATE TO STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION,” shouts one ad calling for donations.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida
Rubio aggressively criticized Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign, but the former president — as well as the former president’s son — have shown up quite a bit in Rubio’s recent digital ads. Rubio has run ads touting his endorsement from Donald Trump Jr., and other ads hit Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings for her role in Trump’s first impeachment. Rubio also accused President Joe Biden of not standing up to China.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
There is perhaps no Republican running today whose ads have their finger on the pulse of the Republican culture wars more than DeSantis. He’s run ads about “critical race theory,” which the Florida Board of Education banned from public school classrooms last month, asked his supporters their opinion about transgender athletes in sports, and proclaimed, “Don’t Fauci My Florida” in an ad promoting his less restrictive handling of the pandemic.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky
Paul has run ads asking supporters to donate $17.76 “for America,” and he’s also gone all in criticizing Fauci, pairing his asks for donations with calls to fire or investigate the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Grassley’s ads stand apart from most of his Republican colleagues. They’re mostly direct-to-camera videos that aren’t focused on the culture wars, though some of the ads’ copy does touch on “the socialist Left,” “Biden’s Border Crisis” and “Democrats’ radical agenda.” In some videos, Grassley is frank about raising money so he’ll have a good showing in his quarterly Federal Election Commission report, and one ad even features an ask from his wife Barbara.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
Scott’s ads warn that the left is “doing their best to cancel EVERYTHING conservative about America,” and some suggest Scott is especially targeted because he “doesn’t fit the ‘woke’ Left’s narrative” as a Black Republican. Scott also highlights his support from Trump.
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
Johnson’s YouTube account was temporarily suspended last month after violating the site’s policies on spreading misinformation about COVID-19, and the Wisconsin Republican is using the news to tie himself to Trump’s social media ban. “Big Tech has censored both President Trump and Ron Johnson for sharing their perspectives,” one ad reads. Johnson has also run ads asking supporters what they think about the job Biden is doing.
Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana
Kennedy’s ads call for supporters to chip in to fight Democrats’ “socialist agenda” and protect gun rights. He’s also run ads criticizing Fauci. “Fauci’s flip flopped like a banked catfish answering questions about COVID,” one ad reads.
Correction: A previous version stated that Utah GOP senatorial candidate Ally Isom was former Gov. Gary Herbert’s chief of staff. She was Herbert’s deputy chief of staff and communications director.