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Swayable Testing Shows Reproductive Freedom Still Persuasive in 2023

Swayable metric questions aiming to determine favorability and demographics

On October 25th, after three failed candidates and 22 days without a Speaker, Republicans elected Mike Johnson of Louisiana's 4th district to the Speakership of the House of Representatives. Unlike past Speakers, Johnson was little known, with virtually no national name recognition. Media outlets have begun reporting on Speaker Johnson’s right-wing views on LGBT rights, abortion, the 2020 election, as well as the role of religion in politics, and Democrats opposing him are keenly interested in identifying what messages work best.

To investigate, we tested five messages on the Swayable platform, each critiquing his positions on different issues. By testing message copy in isolation (as opposed to a fully produced advertisement, for example), we can assess what framing is most effective and shed light on what issues and narratives may feature most centrally in the 2024 election campaign. 

Limited Effectiveness: Bipartisanship

These experiments show that criticizing Speaker Johnson for opposing the House’s accomplishments in passing bipartisan legislation was ineffective. This message highlighted his opposition to the expansion of semiconductor manufacturing, the Violence Against Women Act, and funding to keep the government running, all of which are considered landmark pieces of President Biden’s agenda.

We found this message had no effect on the overall segment, Trump Voters or Biden Voters. However, we did see a slightly positive impact among “Under 35” and “Suburban” respondents. Furthermore, this message had no impact on the Democratic Party Brand, even among younger and suburban respondents. 

Swayable platform showing Bipartisanship messaging was largely ineffective.
Bipartisanship was largely ineffective.

The relative weakness of this message suggests that these legislative successes may not be as persuasive to voters and that most voters don’t value bipartisanship highly. 

What Worked Well

The most persuasive messages focused on specific issues: in particular, abortion and LGBT rights.

Swayable platform showing how effective each category of content (i.e. abortion, religious freedom, etc.) was across all demographics.
All 5 messages and what was most persuasive: Abortion followed by LGBT rights.

We found that Abortion continues to be the most effective messaging approach for Democrats. 

This message was the only one to cause a statistically significant lift for both Democrat Support and Party Brand.

In particular, core Democratic voter groups reacted very positively to this message: women were more persuaded by this message than men, particularly women of color, who saw +2.8 points of lift. Black respondents across the board saw the greatest persuasive lifts regardless of gender, and it was also highly effective among respondents under 35, although largely ineffective among voters aged 55+. It even had a +2.0 point impact among Moderates.

Swayable results showing Abortion was a persuasive issue among many core Democratic party voting groups.
Abortion was a persuasive issue among many core Democratic party voting groups.

In addition to the quantitative results, the Swayable platform also reports open-ended reactions from respondents. These responses from Moderates and Moderate Conservatives show that the Republican position on abortion continues to be a persuasive issue:

“I’ve always been republican. But I’m against the anti abortion bills. Fully!” – 32 year old woman from TX
“I agree that the Republicans have overshot the mark on abortion.” – 66 year old man from CT
“No man should determine a woman’s body and what to do with an unborn child. – 35 year old woman from IL
“Men should not have a say on abortions or include their religious rhetoric against abortions.” – 35 year old woman from NY
LGBT Rights

Speaker Johnson holds relatively extreme views on LGBT relationships and gay marriage. We found that a message highlighting this was almost as persuasive as messaging on Abortion. 

We found that this message was persuasive overall, with a +1.5 point impact. However, it was not equally persuasive with all segments. Unlike the abortion message, it had a +1.8 point impact with white respondents but was not persuasive to other ethnic groups. It was also best with liberals and slightly less effective with moderates. 

Swayable results showing LGBT Rights was persuasive among all age groups and partisanship, but not all ethnic groups
LGBT Rights was persuasive among all age groups and partisanship, but not all ethnic groups.


We saw the continued impact of messaging on Abortion, similar to what we saw in the 2022 cycle. The quantitative and qualitative results showed that this continues to be an important issue for Americans. In addition, we also found that Speaker Johnson’s uniquely extreme views on LGBT rights are a potentially effective messaging area. Unfortunately, we found that a positive argument about bipartisanship was largely ineffective. 

Our full test results include additional messages, additional metrics, and a wide range of segments, including cuts by age, income, ethnicity, urbanization, and many others. It’s available here.

This research was conducted and self-funded by Swayable.

Interested in Learning More?

To learn more about our methodology or view the source material, check it out here.

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