Political insiders say ‘pocketbook issues’ surpass abortion as key midterm priority, but not everyone agrees
With less than a month until the midterm elections, Republicans and Democrats are at odds with what issues they believe are more meaningful and will drive voters to the polls. Several political insiders suggest economic burdens felt by Americans will be the major driving force for voters in November, but others have their doubts.
As inflation continues to rise, Republicans are pointing fingers at President Biden and Democrats for the economic burdens being felt throughout the country. Meanwhile, Democrats are relying on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade to have a meaningful impact on the midterms, concluding that it will play a larger role than some may think.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 0.4% in September from the previous month. Prices climbed 8.2% on an annual basis. Those figures were both higher than the 8.1% headline figure and 0.2% monthly increase forecast by Refinitiv economists, a worrisome sign for the Federal Reserve as it seeks to cool price gains and tame consumer demand with an aggressive interest rate hike campaign.
With chatter among the two parties about what are, or are not, the main problems Americans face, the question remains whether pocketbook issues will turn out more voters on November 8 than protections for abortion. To better understand whether voters are now more concerned with the economy as opposed to abortion, Fox News Digital contacted political experts from both sides of the aisle to get their assessment.
Star Parker, founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education:
‘President Biden and congressional Democrats have deliberately driven up energy prices and engaged in reckless spending, thereby fueling inflation. They now seek to distract from their failed economic policies and rising crime rates by spreading false narratives about abortion. The American people do not believe we should be begging Saudi Arabia to pump more oil when we can produce energy in our own country, if only the government would get out of the way. Nor do they believe we should force taxpayers to pay for abortions up until the moment of birth and trample on the conscience rights of doctors and nurses. Democrats’ extreme economic and social policies will rightly be rejected by the American people.’
Phil Singer, CEO of Marathon Strategies, former communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and former deputy campaign spokesman for Hillary Clinton:
‘There’s a big difference between inflation and Dobbs: Inflation, while painful, will eventually get under control but the Court taking rights away from American citizens could be harbinger of things to come. That’s one of the reasons why Dobbs has generated so much energy among women and others who will decide the outcome on Election Day. Whether Dems can continue to rally the energy they had following the SCOTUS ruling will be critical to their chances come November.’
Colin Reed, founding member of South & Hill Strategies who served as campaign manager for former Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown:
‘Politics is all about timing, and both are trending in the wrong direction at the worst possible time for President Joe Biden and the Democrats. On back-to-back weeks, the Administration suffered major setbacks on the issues polls show are top of mind for voters: inflation and the economy. Last week, Biden face planted on the world stage when the OPEC cartel ignored his pleas to produce more oil. Since Biden has been hell-bent on keeping domestic and reliable sources of energy in the ground, our country finds itself at the mercy of foreign producers while paying sky-high prices in the meantime.’
‘The crippling interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve are so far failing to reign in inflation as intended, but they are threatening to drive the overall economy into a flat-out recession. Biden and team are out of time to shift the economic narrative, and these are the issues voters will take to the ballot box in three short weeks. The Democrats may be wishing the election fell closer to the Supreme Court decision in June, and the Dobbs decision will no doubt generate voter turnout on the left, but it won’t be enough to overcome the economic uncertainty coursing through our nation right now.’
Jehmu Greene, former campaign advisor for Hillary Clinton and Fox News contributor:
‘It’s clear that the SCOTUS ruling on Dobbs has decimated the GOP’s chances to retake control of Congress in November. Just this week, a child victim of incest was denied an abortion in Florida as a result of the state’s dangerous 15-week abortion ban. As more of these traumatic stories emerge, Republican candidates are doing everything they can to try and shift voters’ attention away from their cruelty against women and girls and towards issues like inflation, crime and immigration. Some Republicans have even taken to scrubbing their abortion stances from their websites and shamelessly changing their position in public, while GOP strategists desperately attempt to neutralize the abortion issue for supporters who otherwise lean Republican. But voters aren’t stupid — especially women who have been registering to vote in droves since the SCOTUS decision came down.’
Jennifer Nassour, founder of the Pocketbook Project, former chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party:
‘Pocketbook issues are always the leading issue for voters. The alarming figures on sky-rocketing inflation, that is at a 40-year-high, should turn the heads of every American. Whether it is purchasing groceries, gas, heating a home or paying rent, every American is concerned with rising costs. Inflation does not recognize political parties. When wages have increased to nearly one-half where inflation is rising to, everyone feels the pain.’
‘The Democratic Party would like to hide their losing agenda behind the Dobbs decision. However, the democrats are the ones failing women. Women generally, buy the groceries, find housing for the family, pay health care costs for aging family members and do so much more. Women, pay attention to what comes in and flows out of their pocketbook. Maybe it is time for the Democratic Party to be honest and tell women, it is the democrats that are really the ones interested in taking away their rights!’
Kevin Walling, vice president of HGCreative and Democratic strategist:
‘I’ve been saying for a long time that the state of the economy, especially inflation is going to be the number one issue voters consider when they head to the polls. Americans have a notoriously short attention span when it comes to current events, but rising inflation whether at the gas pump or at the food store is a constant reminder of a family’s economic situation.’
‘Abortion in a post-Dobbs America is still very much an animating issue for many voters, and could make the difference in a number of close statewide and congressional elections. We have witnessed near-record new voter registration in the wake of the Dobbs decision, which is likely not getting picked up in some of this recent polling, but it’s still going to be the state of inflation now with less than a month before Election Day.’
Kevin Seifert, senior advisor for the American Idea Foundation, former chief of staff and campaign manager for former House Speaker Paul Ryan:
‘Anger over the Dobbs decision peaked this summer and, while the issue may still play in certain House districts, most voters will be casting ballots for candidates who will be good stewards of the economy.’
Voters — and swing voters in particular — are concerned about two things: their economic security and their physical security. It’s why attacks about being soft on crime and dismissive of public safety are landing when leveled against Democrats like John Fetterman and Mandela Barnes. It’s also why Republicans have been blasting the Biden Administration’s misguided fiscal policies and their failure to tame inflation.’
‘Voters in swing states and districts are sick of high gas prices, potential tax increases, slow economic growth, and uncontrolled spending by Washington Democrats. They’ll vote with their pocketbooks and that will favor Republicans. Rather than focus on economic growth, Biden and the Democrats focused on appeasing their progressive base and it will come back to bite them in November.’
Jonathan Kott, partner for Capitol Counsel and former communications director for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.:
‘Pocket book issues will definitely be top of mind for voters in November and that’s why democrats and the Biden administration need to scream their accomplishments from every diner, holler, Piggly Wiggly, football game and Sheetz on the campaign trail. Voters need to know what they’ve done to help their pocket book. But, every voter, should be outraged that the Supreme Court took away healthcare rights from Americans. And I think the combination of those issues is why Democrats are going to have a good night on November 8th.’
The comments provided to Fox News Digital in this article are part of a weekend series in which strategists from across the political spectrum are asked the same questions related to political hot topics and are provided with an opportunity to offer their perspective.
Fox Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this article.