Republicans suffered election losses in several states Nov. 7, and one political strategist told Fox News Digital it shows the GOP is playing like a “JV team” that needs to make several key changes.
“When I was looking back at all of the election results, the first thing that I realized was that we had an absence of a cohesive, well-funded machine for conservatives in terms of our tactics,” said Ashley Hayek, executive director of America First Works, who served as the national coalitions director for Trump’s 2020 campaign.
“We are still very much lagging in mail votes and early votes, and I would say the conservative effort is more like the JV football team compared to an NFL team in terms of our ability to turn out voters early through mail and just really mobilize our ground game,” Hayek told Fox News Digital.
In Ohio, where voters approved a measure that enshrined abortion access into the state’s constitution, Hayek told Fox News Digital “Republicans just didn’t turn out” on that issue or the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana.
“I did hear back the day after the election that, in Ohio, mayors’ seats were picked up for Republicans,” Hayek, a political strategist for 15 years, said. “There were some county board seats that were flipped. Some school board seats were picked up. So, Republicans were actively choosing to not engage on those issues, whereas they were still voting in those smaller races.”
One of the things that struck Hayek as a misstep for Republicans in Kentucky was not focusing early and often enough on President Trump’s endorsement of Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who lost by five points in a state Trump carried by 26 points in 2020.
“What was interesting in the Kentucky governor’s race is the fact that the attorney general and the secretary of state — Republicans both won and they both received more votes than the Democrat governor,” Hayek said.
“I think not having and not using Donald Trump’s endorsement earlier was a misstep and a missed opportunity. Not addressing some of the advertising that was taking place on abortion was also a missed opportunity to take that issue head on. So, the Kentucky race is actually a little bit unique in that there’s a lot of dynamics at play there.”
In Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky, Hayek said Republicans were massively outspent by their opposition, specifically on the abortion issue, which is a factor Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America Marjorie Dannenfelser raised in a memo after the election.
“In regards to spending in the state of Ohio, there was a combined $71.6 million in contributions, and the pro-life groups were outspent 2 to 1,” Hayek said. “If you look at Virginia, the amount of money that was spent on ads pertaining to abortion was also pretty astronomical in a lot of those races.
“At the end of the day, I think conservatives are always going to be outspent, so it just means that we have to be a lot more strategic in how we spend money, how we target voters, how we message, and we need to be more unified.”
Republicans did score some notable victories in New York Tuesday night, a continuation of a red wave that has turned Long Island into a GOP bastion in recent years in a historically blue state. Hayek said it’s a blueprint that needs to be used in other areas.
“I think that goes to show that people are really sick and tired of the left’s policies and that there is an opportunity and a path forward,” Hayek said.
“When you have a party that is completely annihilating the nuclear family, fighting to take away parents’ rights, increasing your taxes, making it hard to keep your job, wants to defund your police that keep your community safe, it makes a very easy way for people to come in and say, ‘You know what, that’s not right; that’s not what we’re going to do anymore,’ and start winning back those seats.”
Hayek told Fox News Digital Republicans have an opportunity to highlight President Biden’s record and ask voters if their lives are better today than four years ago. But they will need to try and match Democrats’ unity.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Black Lives Matter or Occupy Wall Street or abortion, the left will find an issue, they’ll hold onto it and that’s what they’ll use to drive the vote, period,” Hayek told Fox News Digital.
“The difference between the left and the right is that the left has one message across the board. Conservatives are not really unified in a message, and I think we’re getting closer. But we’re not really there yet.”