Senate Republicans have one mantra for when they finally recess: It’s the economy, stupid.
Midterm messaging about gains in job growth and gross domestic product (GDP) since Joe Biden took office are critical for Democrats, particularly as the delta variant surge begins to plant the seed of uncertainty in voters’ minds.
Several reports have surfaced in the last several months warning that voters aren’t clear enough about Biden’s accomplishments. “Even among voters who have a favorable view of Joe Biden, there is a real lack of information about the specifics of the Biden Agenda, warned a July memo from the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country. The memo noted that Republican disinformation is partially to blame. And recent battleground district polling from the House campaign arm found Democrats falling a half-dozen points behind Republicans in the generic ballot, largely due to a gap in voters’ understanding of what Democrats have done to shore up a U.S. economy battered by COVID-19.
That’s the bad news—voters simply aren’t clear about Biden’s accomplishments and how relatively successful they have been in rebooting the economy and spurring job growth. July’s stellar job growth numbers, bringing unemployment down to 5.4%, were a clear indication that Biden’s American Rescue Plan had helped set the country on course to a robust recovery following a year of pandemic lockdowns, soaring unemployment, and sluggish growth. The fact that the delta variant threatens to trigger a new period of uncertainty makes it even more imperative for Democrats to convince voters of their successes in getting the country back on track and hopefully insulating it from even greater fallout.
On the bright side, that message is there for the taking given the overwhelming popularity of Biden’s agenda and many of the positive results the country has already experienced.
“Research shows that Democrats have an effective message regarding their legislative agenda and accomplishments, including: cutting taxes, growing jobs through investments in infrastructure and lowering health care costs,” pollsters at the Democratic data firm OpenLabs wrote in the memo, which was obtained by HuffPost. “Additionally, it’s particularly effective to highlight the contrast between Democrats and Republicans, who oppose these proposals while looking out for corporations and wealthy special interests.”
The House battleground polling also found that voters soured more on Republicans when they learned of the disinformation the party has spread about Jan. 6 and the vaccines. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now encouraging candidates to carry an economic message anchored by the “middle-class tax cuts” while also highlighting GOP extremism.
The OpenLabs memo recommends a targeted approach for different groups of voters.
“For women, Black voters, people who supported Donald Trump and white voters without college degrees, the memo recommends a message focused on cutting health care costs and improving health care for seniors,” writes HuffPost. “For white voters with a college degree and Biden voters, the memo suggests ‘making big corporations and the wealthy special interests who rig the rules pay their fair share’ as a compelling message.”
The memo also specifically notes that explaining how Democrats plan to pay for most of their several trillion-dollar investment in jobs and infrastructure should be a feature not a bug of the messaging. In other words, making the mega wealthy and corporations help foot the bill for the windfall they have reaped over the last decade is highly popular.
The OpenLabs memo is based on a survey of 4,894 voters in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.