Axios said it the days of the Virginia gubernatorial election. The Atlantic said it the day after. A lighter form of Trumpism, both said, was working very well for the Republican Party.
Trump-lite is a winning strategy. Virginia has gone red. New Jersey has barely managed to stay blue.
Trump-lite, or at least the Glenn Youngkin formulation of the drug, has a pretty distinct flavour.
Axios spoke to Republican strategists and summed up its unique taste in five easy takes:
- Embrace Trump tactics: In terms of sustained and merciless needling of the opponent for their least well-judged words.
- Softly embrace Trump himself: Don’t talk about the big man. Don’t talk against him.
- Say it’s not you but the opponent who is close-minded: The culture wars provide fodder, what with mask requirements, transgender bathroomsand teaching on race.
- Paint the opponent as too powerful: The Democrats have control of Washington. That can seem like a bad thing if they’re shown as too far left.
- Don’t say crazy things: If independents and suburban women find your words or sentiments incendiary or insulting, that’s bad.
Trump-lite works as a template…so far. It remains to be seen what will happen in swing states in the 2022 midterms.