WaPo: Swing voters are flashing warning signs to Democrats

Source: US National Republican Congressional Committee

The following text contains opinion that is not, or not necessarily, that of MIL-OSI –

Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen is out with a new piece on Democrat polling showing President Biden’s job approval tanking in swing congressional districts.

“The bottom line is clear: Democrats are in a hole when it comes to the voters they need to retain control of Congress in 2022. If they can’t control the border or inflation, they probably won’t dig themselves out of it.”

In case you missed it…

Swing voters are flashing warning signs to Democrats

Washington Post

Henry Olsen

June 30, 2021


National polls have thus far provided comforting news for Democrats. A recent set of polls taken in swing states and congressional districts, however, paint a much less rosy picture.

The polls show that President Biden and Democrats are starting the summer on much rockier ground in key states and seats than many suspect. Conducted by Future Majority, a Democratic advocacy group, they assess Biden’s job approval and voter preferences on a host of issues in the 37 congressional districts where the 2020 presidential election results fell within a five percentage point margin and in the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

Democrats will probably be surprised to learn that Biden’s popularity is poor in key states and among independent voters. His approval rating exceeds his disapprovals in these places only on his handling of the pandemic. On every other issue tested — such as the economy and jobs, racial justice, and environmental and climate policy — more people disapprove of his performance than approve. His worst rating comes on his handling of the southern border with Mexico: roughly 60 percent of voters in Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and the swing districts disapprove of Biden’s performance thus far.

The numbers don’t get any better when it comes to independents. These voters overwhelmingly say they would vote for someone else if they hear a candidate saying they support progressive staples such as defunding the police, socialism, reparations for slavery or abolishing ICE. Majorities of independents in these key locales also would vote against a candidate backing the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all and a $15 minimum wage. These swing state independents even oppose taking down statues of Confederate generals and enslavers, something that should concern every vulnerable House Democrat who backed Tuesday’s vote to remove statues of Confederate leaders from the Capitol.

Swing state and district voters also don’t trust Democrats generally to do a better job than Republicans on a host of important issues. Republicans are trusted more by these people to handle jobs and the economy, protecting both personal and American freedoms, and getting tough with China. Democrats’ strengths center on issues important to the party’s base, such as combating climate change, racial justice and the cost of higher education. At least in these swing regions, Democrats seem positioned to motivate their loyal voters and not many others.

The poll also has bad news for Democrats when it comes to the undecided voters, who will likely determine the outcome of the midterms. Twenty-five percent of independents say they are undecided for the 2022 election, compared with only 4 percent of Democrats and 6 percent of Republicans. These voters backed Biden over Donald Trump by a 44-to-38 margin, with 11 percent going to Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen. They strongly dislike both major parties and Trump, but also hold unfavorable views of Biden and Vice President Harris. Among this group, Biden’s job approval rating is only 45 percent, with 51 percent disapproving of his performance. These voters also overwhelmingly say that the federal government is not working well for them and believe their incomes are falling behind the cost of living.

This latter point is important given the recent rise in inflation. Fifty-four percent of all voters in the swing congressional seats believe their incomes are not keeping up with prices. This includes a plurality of Democrats and majorities of both independents and Republicans. If they feel this way now, imagine how they will feel by early next year if inflation continues to persist. Democrats who think voters will give them credit for overcoming the pandemic despite inflation ignore history. Inflation skyrocketed in 1946 after wartime price controls were ended. Voters did not overlook that and give credit to Democrats for winning World War II; instead, Republicans gained 55 House and 12 Senate seats in that year’s midterms, taking control of both houses of Congress.

The Future Majority poll does have some good news for Democrats. It finds that many provisions of Biden’s America Jobs Plan and H.R. 1 are popular. The challenge, however, is that swing voters will see these provisions through lenses that are already unfavorable for Biden and his party. There’s no assurance that they will view the Jobs Plan as “investment,” the word Future Majority wants the party to use, rather than inflationary spending, which will clearly be the Republicans’ framing. Nor is it clear that they will place greater weight on issues that Democrats poll better on than on the bread-and-butter issues that Republicans do.

The bottom line is clear: Democrats are in a hole when it comes to the voters they need to retain control of Congress in 2022. If they can’t control the border or inflation, they probably won’t dig themselves out of it.