Institute of Politics

Sarah Longwell

Republican Strategist & Publisher of The Bulwark

  • Spring 2022 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminar Series: "What is the Role of Government?"


Sarah co-founded Defending Democracy Together, an advocacy organization made up of Republicans, former Republicans, and lifelong conservatives dedicated to defending America’s democratic norms, values, and institutions. DDT’s most notable projects are the Republican Accountability Project, Republican Voters Against Trump, and Republicans for the Rule of Law.

The Republican Accountability Project, established in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, prioritizes defending Republican elected officials who stand for America’s democratic values while holding accountable those who align themselves with former president Trump and far-right politicians.

Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT), drew its strength from reaching real people with testimonials collected from others just like them. RVAT’s unique, persuasive outreach strategy made a critical difference in key swing states in the 2020 election - states that handed Joe Biden the presidency.

Sarah also serves as founder and publisher of The Bulwark. Founded in late 2018, The Bulwark has grown from a content aggregator to a full publication and media company that has become exceedingly rare in today’s polarized political climate: a moderate, broadly center-right perspective that invites disagreement and debate.

Longwell is the President and CEO of Longwell Partners, a full-service communications firm in Washington, D.C., which focuses on solving some of the country’s most intractable problems through cross-partisan coalitions.

Prior to founding Longwell Partners, Sarah was Senior Vice President and Partner at Berman and Company, a right-leaning public affairs firm. Sarah graduated from Keyon College in 2002 with a BS in Political Science. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her family and is a native of Perry County, Pennsylvania.


"The Art of Persuasion: Strategies to Restore Democracy"

In this seminar, I'll focus on how and why the GOP was captured by Trump, the political communications and persuasion work I led to defeat him in 2020, and the work we are doing today to better understand the dynamics of the American electorate. I’ll trace my journey from Republican political and policy operative to my role in building a number of conservative organizations and institutions designed to resist the Trumpification of the GOP, including the online political magazine The Bulwark, Republicans for the Rule of Law, and Republican Voters Against Trump.

We'll explore and analyze research that was conducted to understand the shift in voter attitudes under Trump and how potentially persuadable voters were identified. We’ll also look at how we designed campaigns to create permission structures for traditional Republicans to vote against Trump in 2020, and how and why we can continue to use these tactics in the 2022 midterm elections.

The seminar will explore issues such as increasing political polarization, the ongoing realignment of political parties, communications tactics and strategies, the changing landscape of political persuasion advertising, and lessons learned from my early work persuading Republicans to support gay marriage. I will be candid about where we succeeded, where we failed, and what comes next for NeverTrump Republicans.

Just like 2020, 2022 is another inflection point in the fate of the GOP and the American experiment. Will we be able to restore our democracy and stop today’s Republican Party from damaging it further?

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