“Dead on Arrival”: Helping Susan Wild Defy the Odds in a Bad Year


Congresswoman Susan Wild was facing a much tougher race for reelection in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District than she had experienced before. Redistricting moved her district from one Biden won by nearly 5 to one Biden won by 0.6 percent. With a midterm environment where the incumbent president’s party typically fares poorly, and an opponent worth nearly half a billion dollars that would potentially allow her to self-fund millions of dollars with ease, most race rating organizations like FiveThirtyEight and Cook Political Report rated Wild’s district as Lean Republican.


GQR’s research helped devise an aggressive strategy that sought to keep Wild’s well-funded opponent from gaining any footing. Because Wild started the race with over 90% name recognition and very strong standing in the district, we had a lot of options. We were able to secure a third term by:

  • Casting Scheller in early August as a liar. During the primary, Scheller said on tape that she took her salary down to zero during the pandemic, so she didn’t have to cut jobs. When we discovered she had actually taken over a million dollars in pay, we were able to start the campaign showing how Scheller was deceitful. This helped prevent Scheller from establishing good will.
  • Attacking Scheller on two fronts: as an outsourcer and as a supporter of an abortion ban. The next phase of our attacks pointed out that Scheller terminated 60% of her American workforce, including closing a plant in the district. We also highlighted her comments during the primary that she would support banning most abortions nationwide.
  • Closing the campaign reminding voters that Wild is an advocate for the region and pushed to bring manufacturing home to America. Our final ad highlighted themes that came through as Wild’s strengths throughout the campaign – fighting for regular people and pushing to bring manufacturing back home.

Thanks to this strategy, Wild was able to outperform Biden, winning the district 51-49 in the most expensive Congressional race in Pennsylvania’s history. In fact, Wild was the only incumbent Democrat in the nation who FiveThirtyEight rated as Republican favored who won.