Democrats Are Focusing on the Wrong Issues


A political party has a problem when voters think it has the wrong answers to its most important questions. There’s a bigger problem when voters think you’re not even focusing on these issues. The Democrats have put themselves in that position, and it could cost dearly in next month’s election.

New research by the Harvard Center for American Policy Studies shows that voters consider the top three issues as inflation, the economy and jobs, and immigration. They also think they are the main issues for Republican leaders. They see Democratic leaders as the most concerned about an entirely different set of issues: January 6, women’s rights and climate change.

Gallup uses a different method to reach a similar conclusion. He asks voters which party they trust the most on the issue they consider most urgent. Republicans have an 11-point lead on the issue, the biggest lead they’ve had since 1946.

Voters are not wrong to consider inflation a low-priority issue for Democrats. Their approach to the issue has been opportunistic and casual: first they downplayed it as transient, then blamed Vladimir Putin, then reorganized their existing agenda as a means of combating it, then claimed credit for a decline in monthly inflation. to evaluate. Now they are warning that Republicans will worsen inflation if they take control of Congress.

Also Read :  Republicans hammer Biden for failed prediction that inflation had peaked last December

President Joe Biden’s latest economic message is that the economy is “strong as hell.” Americans do not agree. An Associated Press and University of Chicago poll found that more than three-quarters of Americans think “poor” describes the economy better than “good.” Once again, the research has a basis in fact. On average, paychecks do not track prices.

If Biden finds the current high-inflation economy laudable, voters may wonder if he prioritizes price stabilization as much as he sometimes says. Worse still, voters may question whether their perception of conditions in the country is skewed. The Biden administration often seems more attentive to the words people use – denying a “border crisis”, arguing over the technical definition of a “recession” – than the underlying phenomena they describe.

In the past, voters had little patience with parties that seemed to ignore reality, whether it was George W. Bush-era Republicans who wouldn’t admit that the Iraq war was going badly or Barack Obama-era Democrats who acted as if the economy had been corrected after they enacted a stimulus.

Instead of trying to reduce the Republican’s advantage in the economy, Democrats have tried to focus the campaign on other issues, notably abortion. But the issue appears to be fading as a voter concern. In July, shortly after the Supreme Court’s term ended with the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, Gallup found that 8% of Americans considered it the key issue facing the country. It dropped to 4%. It lags far behind inflation, the main issue for 17%, and the economy in general, chosen by another 12%.

Also Read :  ‘I've done nothing wrong’ — Lark Davis denies ‘pump-and-dump’ allegations

Some Democrats are starting to wonder if their party has overemphasized the issue. James Carville, the longtime Democratic strategist, recently said, “A lot of these consultants think that if all we do is promote abortion sites, that wins for us. I don’t think so.” But perhaps there is more than strategy at work here. The party genuinely cares more about access to abortion than about inflation. Perhaps it deserves credit for hardly pretending otherwise.

Parties do not exist just to implement the wishes of the public. No one would become a party activist if that were the case. The Democratic coalition has goals that are not shared by the public, as does the Republican coalition. But politics requires a certain balance. This administration and the previous one are unusual in that they put the management of their coalitions ahead of any rational assessment of the country’s most pressing needs.

Also Read :  CFPB Issues Circular Confirming That Financial Companies May Violate Consumer Financial Protection Law By Failing To Protect Consumer Data - Financial Services

The Democrats’ two big partisan victories over the past two years, the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, were pockets of the desires of their activist groups. The first was an anti-Covid effort enacted just weeks after a major bipartisan had already become law, at a time when the economy was growing rapidly with low inflation. The second, while it had components that were defensible on their own merits, had no general logic beyond giving the party a political victory.

If Democrats have a catastrophic election, it will largely be because they ignored the most democratic of political maxims: the foot knows best where the shoe fits.

More from Bloomberg’s opinion:

• Democrats try to persuade while Republicans try to mobilize: Julianna Goldman

• Democrats are making headway just in time for midterm elections: Matthew Yglesias

• A landslide defeat in November would help Democrats: Clive Crook

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He is editor of the National Review and a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.

More stories like this are available at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.