The polls show that Trump is less vulnerable than other GOPers, but there is a path to victory.
It’s not “abortion is important, but don’t forget to talk about the economy.” Abortion IS an economic issue. Being denied abortion care has huge impacts on the financial futures of women and families, and thus on the economic success of communities as a whole.. Yellen has said “eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy.” Whitmer did an incredible job of using this messaging in 2022. These aren’t mutually exclusive, and framing abortion messaging in contrast to economic messaging is not only incorrect, it’s shortsighted.
If you made a Venn diagram of all of the issues important to Americans who want a multiracial, pluralistic democracy, they would overlap. I think the overarching issue is freedom (democracy) and the issues that Republicans are in favor of take away freedom. They take freedom away from woman, away from POC, away from those in the LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants, voters, non-Christians, people who want to read any book they choose, etc. These anti-freedom positions also end up harming the economy because they don't want everyone to succeed. The "small government" party now wants government in every aspect of our lives. They're all for George Orwell's 1984 loyalty. I think the message has to be about freedom and all the ways the Republicans are trying to take away our freedoms, especially how they already succeeded in taking away woman's freedom by overturning Roe.
Now I’m just an internet rando, but as a *deep inhale* lower-class, non-college educated white voter from Ohio, I think focusing on the economy would be disastrous. The economic indicators used in all these “why are Americans mad about Biden’s great economy?” articles simply aren’t reflective of the lived experience of the majority of Americans imo. The middle class my parents had no longer exists. Most Americans do not even have $500 in emergency funds. Everything is expensive, rent keeps increasing, and student loans have resumed. The economy was NOT better under Trump, but it also was more or less the same in terms of my lived experience. And the same is bad, because it was bad then, too.
Abortion is a good way of framing issues imo because it reflects the realities of Republican policies. Trump’s Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, and took away our freedoms. I think that’s a better way of framing stuff--“your life sucks because of republican policies.” I was talking to a Biden voter coworker yesterday who said he refused to vote in the next election; he was extremely upset that Biden “lied” about forgiving student loans. I explained to him what actually happened--the Republican SCOTUS stopped him, and Biden is still trying. That deflated the anger a little.
People who are mad about the economy are poor, or worried about being poor, and you’re not going to change their minds by insisting that the economy is good. Instead, I think it’d be better to talk about how much worse things would be (and were!) under Trump. He’s not on your side. Trump is a rich asshole who is currently on trial for fraud. Biden stood with auto workers.
I’m rambling because your piece got me thinkin’! Enjoyed it as always, but I really think the people who are baffled by Biden’s bad polling on the economy tend to be relatively well-off pundits and journalists who don’t live a particularly average American life. But I’ve never met a human living in my area who thought the economy was good.
I agree that abortion is a key issue. Many aspects of it: taking bodily autonomy from women. That happens to men in only one instance—if they’re put in prison. Pretty serious issue, if you can build an ad around it. The economic aspect, the health aspect, the second-class citizen issue. And for heaven’s sake take that absolute lie of an issue about “abortion up to and including birth” away by exposing it as a lie. Over and over.
As to the economy, inflation just hit zero, but prices are too high. Prices rose for many reasons, supply chain problems, labor costs, but also corporate greed. For the next year, let’s see a lot of the excellent Gina Raimondo jawboning big corporations to back a significant number of prices down. It’s happened in previous administrations. And always be seen using fairness to the consumer as the rationale. Make it visible.
Lots of very good issues to attract younger voters. Housing costs. Let Marcia Fudge put a brain trust together to address the huge barriers to purchasing your first home if you’re under 40. This is a huge and meaningful issue.
Too often, Dem officials tend to negotiate with themselves before publicly taking on an opponent. So the appeal of the issue is watered down before it’s even made public. Take a page from FDR. He and his cabinet always started big if they needed the public’s opinion behind them.
Deschedule marijuana. Big issue for many.
Big tax break for corporations that start an intern program directed at low-income youth. Whether those interns are drawn form urban or rural backgrounds. Internships are an important way to give a helping hand to the low-income folks for whom college seems like an impossible dream.
BTW, am I wrong in remembering an early Trump mindless riff where he advocated locking up women and doctors over abortion? Play that on a loop in an ad.
I have seen ads featuring Pete Buttigieg on infrastructure projects in local areas. These serve as clean contrast to the pointless anti woke, grievance blathering of Trump and Republicans. Would add that to the toolkit.
Great column! I think you’re right - Dobbs is a galvanizing issue and the prospect of Trump completely cutting off abortion access if he wins is deeply motivating for a lot of people. I wonder if this issue works as kind of a centerpiece to painting Trump as a deranged old man who wants to take all of your rights away?
Not just to an abortion or reproductive healthcare (because the anti-abortion zealots are coming for birth control and no-fault divorce next) but your right to vote and have it count, your right to read books and choose which books your children can access, all of that. Put footage of Trump rambling, thinking he’s running against Obama, and dancing like a goof against his plans to completely control people’s freedoms - it doesn’t look great!
Excellent, thanks Dan. 1) I do not think that abortion will fade from women's issues, not one bit. Maybe others, dunno. 2) As you have outlined many times, Biden and team have improved the economy radically but much of it does not show yet in ordinary life. This is a problem, and needs ads and more; it needs to SHOW. 3) Young people need to be reminded that he fought for them (and will again) and was stopped by a radical congress. This can bring them back and also help them take their votes for congress seriously. They are not stupid. But knowing they cannot even think of buying houses due to out of control tuition now or in their future debt is so real. I have kids out of grad school who feel this to their bones. They will still vote Biden but they are hurting. And they are the privileged ones. And YES they think Biden is too old. Nothing I say can convince them because they have not experienced age. 4) I do not understand Biden's loss of people of color though I have read all you have sent and other research. I don't see Biden doing anything to change this..... yet? What can be done. Maybe a column on this again Dan? Finally, I think the really saliant issue is Trump himself. People need to be reminded constantly of the harm he has done, and what he will do next. I don't see that really either, not in the general, pop culture. HE is the issue.
Dobbs, Democracy, and Dipshits - focus on the absolute chaos that the GOP represents: Think government is dysfunctional now? Imagine how much worse it will be if the clowns get their hands on two or three of the levers of power. Evil + Stupid = Fail
Voters say the economy is the most important thing but we should talk about abortion? Why wouldn’t we note your second bullet about how voters were unaware of Romney’s stance and use that same logic to educate voters in simple, yet extensive analysis of trump’s own handing of his finances and ask why we think he’d be good at handling ours?
Trump's reason for living is revenge. And who stands defiant against abortion bans? Blue states, which he already hates/blames/and has punished. So of course he'll sign a national abortion ban to punish and exert control over Blue state Dems. He may not give a flip about abortion, but revenge is his fentanyl, and ending abortion in Blue states would be a huge rush for him.
I agree, abortion rights are not important to all voters where as inflation rate is a problem for just about everybody and to ignore it and other voter concerns could be a big mistake. Never a good idea "to place all of your eggs in one basket", we can't afford to get it wrong and allow trump to win.
I guess my concern is the impression that we are in grim economic times, rather than a sustained period of economic growth, improvement, and low unemployment. The truth is that the economy is going well right now and the Biden Administration, for once, deserves fair credit for what are solid data confirming recovery. Nothing is ever perfect, and there remains many things we must address to share the rewards more widely in Americans society. Housing, insurance, health care and racially imbalanced inequity are among the chronic problems. Even so, the impression of a bad economy is pernicious and frustrating.
Recent news discusses potential election interference using Artificial Intelligence advertising, ie: video ads making it appear a candidate is saying what he never actually said. I fear the following:
Biden Campaign: (shows videos of Trump's boasting about ending abortion.)
FOX News: That's just AI. Trump never said any of that. Fake News!!
Trump: I approve this message.
Remind them of the Comstock Act, sending “obscene items thru the mail” -- and birth control and abortion. A president can invoke it although who would — except an R?