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GSG Compass: Words Matter

Language to Motivate the Base and Persuade Swing Voters When Talking about Republicans

Heading into the final days of election season, campaigns are preparing their closing arguments to voters. And with voter distrust at an all-time high, the words campaigns use to describe their Republican opponents matter.

In our final GSG Compass before the historic November elections, we asked base and swing voters to choose words that best describe their concerns for voting for a Republican. And—because Republicans come in all shapes and sizes—we tested five distinct Republican profiles: a social conservative, a corporate conservative, a Trump supporter, a DC insider, and a hard partisan – to see which words are most concerning for each.

What did we find?

  • Overly ideological language (words like “radical”, “extreme”, “polarizing”) is not as effective with swing voters.
  • Behavior-based language is more motivating with both swing and base voters.
  • While Trump is seen as “divisive”, voters reserve that label for only Trump himself. It is far more effective to call a Republican candidate who has endorsed Trump “irresponsible” and “out-of-touch”.


Read all of our findings from GSG October Compass: Words Matter here.