What does it take to coin a winning hashtag?
Simplicity, directness, and just a little bite.
That’s the lesson we can learn from Hugh Hewitt, whose #NoHearingsNoVotes slogan is beginning to shape the debate over how Republicans should position themselves in the upcoming fight over filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Hewitt was ruminating on the issue on Sunday when he tweeted the slogan for the first time. Since then, it’s become a rallying cry not only for conservative Twitter users, but for organizations like Heritage Action for America, which is pressuring Republicans to stop a nomination process from moving forward under President Obama.
Hewitt also tried #LameDucksDontMakeLifetimeAppointments. Somehow, it just didn’t catch on.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) February 14, 2016
It’s a testament to Hewitt’s influence that the hashtag took off. It had been used in 693 tweets as of Thursday afternoon, according to Keyhole, a Twitter tracking and search tool, and earned 3.3 million total impressions.
But what’s more, the content of the slogan is starting to matter. Republican senators disagree over how best to handle a nomination from Obama, and few have been clear about whether they would simply oppose a nominee or oppose the entire process for confirming one.
Here’s how our colleagues Mike DeBonis and Juliet Eilperin put it:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared in the hours after Scalia’s death that his seat “should not be filled until we have a new President.” But since his statement Saturday, his Republican colleagues have not agreed on where precisely they ought to make their stand: Should they refuse to take any action whatsoever, responding to the demands of the conservative base? Or should they at least schedule hearings and procedural votes in order to blunt political attacks from Democrats?
Hewitt and Heritage Action argue there should be no confirmation hearings and no votes on Obama’s pick. But Republicans aren’t rushing to line up behind this position. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has declined to rule out hearings, and junior Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) each suggested blocking the process could backfire.
On Twitter, Hewitt is already called out Heller and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for skepticism:
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) February 18, 2016
And who knows? Given the number of activists who listen to Hewitt, there might be consequences for incumbents: