Republican lawmakers are getting ready to vigorously defend the tax cuts they passed into law this week, in an effort to avoid the mistakes Democrats made after they passed Obamacare and watched the public grow more wary of that policy shift as it was implemented.
The GOP successfully passed the bill this week and are waiting for President Trump to sign it in early January. But they are facing polls that show a lack of enthusiasm and even some skepticism from voters who Republicans think are misinformed about the bill.
They know that they'll have to defend the bill to voters next year.
"Absolutely. I mean, we're looking forward to [messaging on the bill]," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the Senate passed the bill late Tuesday night. "If we can't sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work."
Republican leadership wasted no time trying to sell the bill on Wednesday. Hours after the bill passed McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., appeared on four national morning television shows, along with Rush Limbaugh's radio program, to sell the package.
Some Republicans worry, however, that it will be tough to change the opinion of the American people, given the successful campaign by Democrats — along with the media, according to multiple GOP lawmakers — who believe corporations and the wealthiest Americans will be the major benefactors of the bill.
"It's hard to change the narrative once it's written. But there's going to have to be a sales job," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. "People are just saying things, without knowing what's in it, on television, so I think there's a great deal of confusion about what's in this bill. That's why I think it's polling badly, in part. They hear bad things and a lot of people don't know what's in it."
"People are going to have to go out and sell it. They're going to have to go out and sell it in their districts, go out and talk about it," Dent continued. "The worst thing to do is to go vote for something like this and then go quiet."
According to a CNN poll, 55 percent of voters oppose the GOP efforts to overhaul the tax system, while only 33 percent support them. Additionally, Democrats hold a 13-point lead over Republicans on the generic 2018 ballot, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Democrats conceded this week that they did not do an effective job pitching the Affordable Care Act to voters after its passage in 2010, which led to Republicans retaking the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014 and, ultimately, the White House in 2016.
This time around, Democrats remain bullish that the tax bill will be a net negative for Republicans in less than a year. When asked Wednesday if Republicans are right to believe that they will be helped next November by the bill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was blunt.
"Let them think that," Pelosi said at a morning press conference before touching on the problems Democrats encountered in messaging the ACA.
"They were able to mischaracterize what the Affordable Care Act was. I would ... take some responsibility for the fact that we thought others would be messaging it and we probably should have been doing a better job at that, clearly," Pelosi said. "But when people understood what it was about, it has broad support."
A common belief among Republicans is that the tax bill will sell itself and become popular once voters see their withholdings and reap the intended benefits in the coming years.
"If you win Wimbledon, you don't really need to send out a press release saying you won Wimbledon," said Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. "I think there are a lot of issues that speak for themselves based on the way in which they impact people's lives."
But others think some effort will be needed, especially after Sen.-elect Doug Jones' victory over Republican Roy Moore last week in red-state Alabama and Democrat Ralph Northam's larger-than-expected win in the Virginia gubernatorial contest in early November.
"I think it'll be a slog," said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo. "I think people are going to take a different view of it, but I think it's going to take time ... Optimistic would be more neutral [impact] probably in 2018 and a real plus in 2020. That's being optimistic."