The strategy these candidates used wasn’t rocket-science. In rural areas they ran ads touting their relationship with Trump. In the suburbs they ran ads that focused on the economy and crime, and pretended that Trump didn’t exist.
This isn’t the traditional pivot we used to see, where a Republican candidate would run as a severe conservative in the primary and then a practical moderate in the general election. That strategy was like a character turn. The new Republican strategy is to simultaneously present two different versions of the party to two different sets of voters—almost as if the candidate is running in two parallel universes—and hope that neither cohort really notices the other. Thus creating a political coalition without either side feeling like they were suckered.
It worked for Republicans in 2020 and they’re going to push it even further in 2022.