Case Studies: National Security


Throughout 2014, the world seemed to grow increasingly dangerous and more unstable.  America’s enemies were emboldened by the weakness of President Obama’s confused foreign policy.  Amid the chaos of Obama’s failure to recognize the growing threat of ISIS punctuated by horrific videos of their brutal torture and beheading of Americans and countless Christians, Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine and openly challenge Obama and the West.


Calls for Obama to help in Ukraine’s defense resulted in little more than feckless statements of condemnation largely built upon stern facial expressions and hollow threats. Putin calculated that he could easily dismiss this response from Obama as another erasable “red line” similar to his threat to take action in Syria if WMDs were being used–and when they were, watching him do nothing.


By October, Obama’s approval rating was in a free fall.  According to a three-day Gallup Daily poll ending October 1, only 42% of Americans approved of how President Obama was doing as president while 54% disapproved of his job performance.


During a speech on the economy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill. on October 2nd, President Obama insisted, “I’m not on the ballot this fall….  But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot, every single one.” The challenge was to use these words to nationalize the midterm elections and make them a referendum on Obama’s failed policies by reminding voters that these polices were supported by Democrats who could now be replaced.


RapidResponse Media analyzed the results of a poll taken by pollster Kellyanne Conway on September 16 and 17 for Center for Security Policy  that confirmed the concept of “security” was emerging as a primary focus of voters. Key Findings included:


      • “Security” is the dominant theme now. Whether preceded by the words “financial,” “border,” or “national,” Americans have elevated safety and survival to top-of-list concerns.


      • Americans feel the U.S. is less safe & more vulnerable than a year ago. From the southern border to the rise of ISIS & Iran, struggle & strife reign.


      • Respondents not indifferent; in fact, they proved to be engaged and knowledgeable on the issues – and losing patience: 71% say our leaders are not doing enough to address the threats that concern them most.


      • Survey respondents rank terrorism (52%) as the greatest security concern, but other things worry them, too, e.g., computer hacking of bank accounts and personal information, porous borders and power grid outages.


        • Female focus on national security (and border security) is increasing and crystallizing.

On September 29, conservative movement icon, Richard A. Viguerie, published an online article for Conservative HQ suggesting Republicans could successfully accomplish their goals by focusing voter attention on a number of Obama’s failed policies and use these issues to nationalize the election around three key themes: Amnesty [Illegal Immigration], National Security, and Obama and the Democrats’ Culture of lies.”



RapidResponse Media developed a theme for a Web ad around the concept: when given a choice of politicians who support Obama’s failed policies and those who do not, “Who will keep us safe?”  This concept presented voters with a clear call-to-action:  If you disapprove of Obama’s job performance and feel unsafe send a message to both the president and Democrats who support him by voting for Republicans who have traditionally championed strong national security policies.  Without identifying party affiliation, RapidResponse Media’s 60-second ad successfully capitalized on Obama’s statement that his polices “are on the ballot” and amplified his track record of failure by visually listing the litany of Obama’s hot-button policy failures.  This list culminated in the three issues identified by Richard Viguerie as unifying themes that tap into voter anxiety over “security” issues and nationalized the midterm elections to the advantage of Republicans:  immigration, abuse of power, and national security.


On October 27th, FedUpPAC distributed RapidResponse Media’s ad via email to over 2.5 million viewers nationwide. At the same time, a number of like-minded conservative grassroots groups and bloggers echoed the”Who Will Keep Us Safe” theme on Facebook and Twitter.  This ad was one of many independent GOTV messaging efforts in the closing weeks of the 2014 midterm elections that helped propel Republican campaigns to victory and return control of the Senate to a Republican majority in an historic “wave” election.



Among midterm winners many historic firsts – “The 2014 midterm elections brought a historic victory for Republicans, handing the GOP its largest congressional majority since World War II.”  CNN 11/5/14


How The 2014 Midterm Elections Made History – “Yes, Republicans resoundingly trounced Democrats, taking control of the Senate, expanding their majority in the House and even picking up key gubernatorial posts. But the GOP also made much history, electing younger, more diverse candidates to a legislative body that has historically been dominated by older, white men.”  Huffington Post, 11/5/14


GOP dominates midterms, takes control of Senate. – “Republicans scored a stunning electoral rout in the midterm elections, taking control of the U.S. Senate after a bitter campaign in which anger at Washington gridlock was turned against a president who took office promising to transcend it.”  Washington Post, 11/5/14