Winning (and Losing) Messaging Advice for Dems Heading into 2024

New TV Congress Report Offers In-Depth Analysis of Broadcast Political Messaging

Way to Win
4 min readJun 12, 2023

In an effort to learn lessons from 2022 messaging on the road to 2024, Way to Win recently released an in-depth analysis of all the political ads on broadcast media from the midterm election cycle. This project, known as TV Congress, is part of our broader effort to not only understand the power of narrative in politics, but to help shape it in a way that empowers and uplifts diverse coalitions of voters to deliver victories for Democrats in the coming elections and into the future.

View: TV Congress Web Tools Website

Our research covered congressional and Senate races, plus a few gubernatorial contests as well. The topline insights have been compiled into a memo authored by Way to Win co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Jenifer Fernandez Ancona. We’ve also created a web tool and are hoping campaigns, organizations, and individuals find it to be a useful resource, allowing them to dive even deeper into the research to better understand the existing narrative ecosystem, and come up with new insights into effective messaging as we head into the 2024 election cycle.

TV Congress is the latest report of political messaging we’ve developed as an organization. In 2021, we released our first Congressional Messaging Analysis where we argued big changes were needed in order to avoid heavy losses heading into the 2022 midterms. As we detail in our memo, the electoral results speak for themselves. Despite doomsday predictions by media pundits and promises of a Red Wave, Democrats were actually able to increase their margin in the Senate and stave off catastrophic losses in the House in part by using new messaging strategies.

One of our main findings pointed to a need for strong messaging that framed the MAGA GOP as extreme and dangerous, making the elections about protecting our freedoms (e.g. abortion) and democracy, rather than simply a referendum on the economy. There were also indicators that Democrats needed to portray Republicans as the political party committed to waging culture wars, picking on marginalized groups and dividing America. Democrats’ focus, however, should be placed on messages of solidarity and uniting around the larger themes of freedom and protecting our democracy.

Our messaging research paid huge dividends, and we hope to continue developing a narrative ecosystem that effectively translates our learnings and insights into Democratic victories up and down the ticket, with a special focus on keeping the White House in 2024.

Below we’ve listed some of the larger takeaways from the report. All of these are explained in greater detail in the memo:

What worked:

  • Democrats in 2022 had significant overall spending advantages, spending roughly 26% more on both the Senate and House races overall. However, we lag in outside group spending, especially during primaries. This gap gives Republicans an outsized chance to push their messaging and hot-button issues.
  • The fight to protect abortion freedoms translated into Democrats also taking a stand about freedom itself. This moment led to more callouts against the GOP’s MAGA and extremist tendencies, an improvement on the 2020 election when we failed to do so.

⚠️ Warning signs:

  • Republicans focused on named, personal attacks blaming President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi for economic hardship and inflation; these were frequent, consistent, and often went unchallenged by Democrats. This is despite many proven wins for the American people.
  • House and Senate Republicans utilized fear and status threat-based attacks on crime, immigration, and accusations of defunding the police, as secondary attacks to their mostly economic-focused messaging, and with a few exceptions, those were left mostly unanswered.

🏛️ Takeaways for 2024:

  • Democrats rarely ran ads celebrating or defending Biden’s wins on popular climate, infrastructure, and restoring legislation. Midterm focus on jobs and China neglected to mention the CHIPS Act, despite it polling well across parties. In 2024, we will need to educate voters on Biden’s major political accomplishments.
  • When Democrats did talk about jobs and the economy, they largely ignored messaging opportunities touting historic job creation and other positive aspects of the Biden economy. This created a messaging vacuum that Republicans have filled with attacks on inflation and government spending.

We hope you will take a look at the research, form your own conclusions and let us know what you think. If you would like to support or learn more about this work, let us know by emailing We would love to hear from you!



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