Voters aren’t feeling the positive economic news Democrats were trumpeting just days before the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when a report showed the U.S. created 261,000 jobs last month.
Recent claims by Democratic candidates that crime is worse in red states is falling flat and voters fear leaving their homes in Democratic enclaves that have suddenly become competitive for Republican candidates.
The Democratic Party message, in other words, is landing with a breath. Polls are predicting victories across the country for Republican candidates who have upset Democrats on inflation, rising energy costs, runaway crime and uncontrolled illegal immigration.
“Republicans are playing with people’s hearts,” said Democratic Party strategist Christopher Hahn. “And the Democrats are trying to appeal to their minds.”
Crime is an example of where Democrats have failed to resonate with voters, Mr. Hahn said.
“People feel there is a crime problem,” he said. “You need to address that feeling. You can’t just push back and say, ‘No, it’s not.'”
The party’s messaging issue is playing out in statewide elections, including in New York, where Republican Lee Zeldin has surged to an improbable tie in the governor’s race against Democrat Kathy Hochul. Mr. Zeldin hammered Ms. Hochul relentlessly on crime, which has risen in some parts of the state and made headlines again Thursday when a woman was raped in New York City after going for a daytime jog. Her attacker was a man with 25 previous arrests.
Elise Stefanik, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said in The Washington Times: “Crime is a top priority for New York voters. “You can’t open a paper in this state without seeing the crime crisis.”
Ms. Stefanik represents New York’s 21st Congressional District.
On the national stage, President Biden’s final address to the nation from Union Station in the nation’s capital may serve as a fitting coda to the Democrats’ unconventional campaign message.
The president used the speech to warn of intimidation and violence against Democrats and said if voters choose the “MAGA Republican” candidate on Tuesday, it will open “a path to chaos in America.”
Mr. Biden’s final argument to voters failed to focus on their biggest concerns and instead addressed an issue that few people are talking about in the House and Senate races, a Democratic Party insider told The Times.
“The president is appealing to his coalition, which voted for him and rejected Trump,” the insider said.
There are also swing districts and swing states, however, which require not only the grassroots, but also appeal to Democrats and independents who are less enthusiastic about Mr. Biden, which is unlikely for the president’s speech. anti-MAGA does. Those voters are most concerned about the economy, according to polls.
A new Economist/YouGov poll found that 61% of respondents believe the US is in a recession despite denials from Democrats, who continue to paint a rosier picture of a booming economy.
“This is a big problem for Democrats,” poll analyst Ron Faucheux said. “Seventy-five percent of Republicans, 57% of independents and 43% of Democrats say we’re in a recession, while the Biden administration says we’re not.” Worse, of the 23% who think we are not in a recession now, nearly a quarter think we will be in the next 12 months.
Democrats have also campaigned hard on abortion access. Despite polls showing independent voters are more concerned about the economy than overturning Roe v. Wade on the Supreme Court, party operatives believe the issue will hurt Republicans in swing races and give Democrats a boost.
They point to Democrat Pat Ryan’s victory in the August special election in New York’s 19th Congressional District, which many viewed as a referendum on the high court’s decision to overturn Roe, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in all the country.
Democrats have invested heavily, but not exclusively, in making abortion access a central part of their platform ahead of the midterms.
The Democratic House campaign arm ran 205 radio and television ads for candidates this cycle, and half of them mentioned abortion.
In comparison, 87 ads, or 42%, mentioned the economy.
Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the party has targeted its messages to a wide range of issues that voters care about.
Democrats and Mr. Biden, he said, often promote the current Inflation Reduction Act that raises taxes, pays for green energy projects and reforms prescription drug prices for seniors, as well as a $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending bill. .
“Democrats told Americans we wanted to build bridges, save jobs and defeat the pandemic,” Mr. Taylor said. “We did all this while reminding the American people that we will defend women’s freedom and the right to vote.”
Voters will declare the winner of the message war on Tuesday.
Mrs. Stefanik is confident that the Republicans will.
He held an upstate rally for Mr. Zeldin on Thursday that drew 3,000 people, a large crowd for the area and one that was smaller than an event for Ms. Hochul hosted by Hillary Clinton and Vice President Kamala Harris that same evening.
Ms. Stafanik believes Republicans’ focus on issues that matter most to voters has helped give their party momentum, even in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican governor in two decades.
He devised the campaign messaging strategy for House Republicans, who are now in a position to potentially pick up dozens of seats and reclaim the majority from Democrats.
“When I became chairman of the House Republican Conference, one of my promises was that we would talk about issues that matter to the American people,” Ms. Stefanik said. “We have revealed the crisis message – the inflation crisis, the crime crisis, the border crisis. And we now have all these problems. And these are the main problems that the American people are focused on.