Republicans hammer LGBT rights to score midterm points
In online advertising and content, conservatives launch full out assault on LGBT people, just in time for Pride month
Fueled by Facebook groups, online right wing pages, and remarks from prominent Republican elected officials, political assaults on the rights of LGBT folks have been on the rise in 2022. Far-right narratives have rapidly morphed into policy outcomes on everything from banning gender-affirming healthcare, meddling in youth sports leagues, and pushing public school teachers back in the closet.
Many of us in the community have watched these events unfold with horror and outrage - and for this week’s FWIW, we’ll take a look at how three key online narratives have been and will continue to be weaponized by the right in this year’s midterm elections. But first…
By the numbers
FWIW, here were the top-spending political advertisers on Facebook + Instagram last week:
The Republican National Committee has been spending heavily on fundraising ads of late, with predictably cringeworthy content aimed at getting grassroots conservatives to click.
Also on the Right, we noticed Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has begun blanketing swing states like GA, OH, NC, and WI (among others) with ads highlighting inflation and higher costs caused by “Washington’s failures.”
Meanwhile, here were the top political advertisers on Google platforms last week, including YouTube:
Pro-Stacey Abrams group One Georgia Inc. has started spending significantly on Google and YouTube ads over the past few weeks, attacking Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for “taking Georgia backwards.” You can view their ads here.
We found that Rep. Liz Cheney’s campaign launched its first wave of YouTube ads for her re-election bid last week, highlighting that she’s a “constitutional conservative” who “stands up to bullies.” She’s already outspent her pro-Trump opponent, Harriet Hageman, on the platform by 2 to 1. Watch the ad below:
Lastly, here are the top political ad spenders on Snapchat so far this year:
From around the internet
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Anti-LGBT online narratives fuel a brutal midterm election year
Fueled by Facebook groups, online right-wing personalities, and remarks from prominent Republican politicians, assaults on the rights of LGBT folks have been on the rise in 2022. Far-right narratives have rapidly morphed into policy outcomes on everything from banning gender-affirming healthcare, meddling in youth sports leagues, and pushing public school teachers back in the closet. Here’s a look at how three key online narratives have been and will continue to be weaponized by the right in this year’s elections:
Participation in women’s sports
As do most issues in the conservative movement, narratives often emerge in fringe activist circles and take off in right-wing media bubbles. They later make their way into the speeches and legislative portfolios of Republican elected officials. That remains the case with transgender athletes’ participation in sports, which has become about as hot an issue on the Right as any other this year.
If you thought this debate was cooling off, you’d be mistaken. One of the most-engaged Facebook posts about the subject over the past year came just last week when Breitbart touted the passage of Louisiana legislation, receiving nearly 200,000 interactions on the site in just a few days. Other right-wing media outlets from FOX News to The Daily Wire and Newsmax continue to dedicate endless amounts of coverage to the issue.
Perhaps because of the intensity of engagement on the issue, dozens of GOP midterm candidates - including some in battleground states and districts - have been unafraid to use this wedge in their advertising and messaging campaigns. Those candidates include Reps. Nancy Mace and Yvette Harrell, in addition to others challenging frontline Democratic House incumbents.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has spent around $20,000 on these types of Facebook ads, while Rep. Nancy Mace’s campaign spent nearly $13,000 on the platform attacking trans athletes.
What is a Woman?
Relatedly, many liberals uncomfortably laughed at or shrugged off Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s aggressive line of questioning of then-SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson over what constitutes a woman. However, that moment immediately caught fire on the Right - so much so that right-wing media company The Daily Wire invested millions in creating a feature-length documentary on the subject, titled What is a Woman?