Democrats push for stronger economic message ahead of midterms: ‘We’ve got to do a better job’


Democrats are attempting to message on economic issues just two weeks ahead of the midterms as they recognize Americans are “pessimistic” about the economy and hope to set up a “vivid contrast” for voters. 

“A lot of candidates aren’t really clear about what the economic message is,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told the New York Times. “What we need to do is set up a more vivid contrast. People are getting more pessimistic about the economy.”

Faiz Shakir, a political adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT., told the Times that campaigns focused on abortion and Donald Trump are “political malpractice.” Sanders and Democratic strategist James Carville recently warned Democrats against going all-in on abortion and ignoring the economy. 

“It was never going to work to not talk about the economy,” Former adviser to Barack Obama, David Axelrod, told the outlet, reflecting on the midterm elections in 2010. “That’s sort of like, ‘How was the play otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln?’”

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Axelrod said the lesson from the 2010 midterms was to acknowledge economic pain and create a choice rather than avoid the subject.

“There was a narrative at one point that this was a Roe v. Wade election,” Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., who is running against Republican Tom Kean, said. “I never thought it was going to be that simple.”

Rep. Ro Kanna, D-Calif., said Democrats need to make this election about a choice on the economy because “Republicans are running on an explicit promise of extending Trump’s tax cuts.”

“We’ve got to do a better job having a clear economic message,” he told the Times. “I don’t think we can say, ‘Woe is me. Gas prices are going up.’”

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Lake said Democrats were going to be spending millions on advertising in the weeks leading up the midterms.

“There’s time; there’s money,” she told the New York Times. “We’re going to be spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising in the next two weeks, and there’s vulnerability on the Republican side, but only if we articulate the contrast.”

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Media figures, such as MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Ali Velshi appeared frustrated at a poll showing voters did not believe threats to democracy were a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections. 

“I fully get why a tank of gas, or a gallon of milk, or the rent on your house, or the price of a used car is really, really, really important,” Velshi said Wednesday. “It’s just not as important as losing your democracy—and we get to see this all over the world, right? In Ukraine, where what would they do to pay extra for a tank of gas, and not have Russia invade them and lose their democracy.” 

Democrats are hoping to expand their messaging tactics to include economic issues as voters are increasingly more “pessimistic” about the economy ahead of November.

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