by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democratic strategists are urging President Joe Biden to stop the shift in the polls toward the Republicans with a stronger message on the economy.
The economy and inflation are the top issues for voters three weeks out from the midterm elections, as polls show a growing share of the public concerned about rising costs. Forecasts indicate Democrats’ leads are evaporating as their small congressional majorities hang in the balance.
Biden had hoped that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer would animate voters through the fall. The president raised the issue just last week, promising to codify federal abortion rights if Democrats in Senate boost their majority next month. But tempering the enthusiasm that surged in the wake of the July ruling is an entrenched economic reality showing few signs of improvement.
Now the party risks losing congressional seats, legislatures, and states once considered safe as Democrats lose ground on economic issues.
In response, veteran Democratic strategists are raising the alarm, asserting in a joint public memo that “what we have to do … is end on a strong economic argument.”
Written by Patrick Gaspard, president of the Center for American Politics; pollsters Stanley Greenberg and Celinda Lake; and liberal strategist and a senior White House aide under President Bill Clinton, Mike Lux, the memo concedes that “no Democratic candidate should stop talking about abortion.”
“But going down the stretch, we need to make sure our closing message also talks about the cost of living, inflation and the economy,” the authors argue, writing that “rising costs will beat us if we avoid the issue.”
Yearly inflation ending in September came in at 8.2%, while core inflation, which strips out food and energy prices, rose to 6.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both numbers came in above projections.