Winning the Messaging War over Inflation
Dems have to push back on GOP attacks over inflation, here are some ideas on how they can do it
When it rains, it pours. As the New York Times wrote:
Inflation remained painfully elevated in June, with the Consumer Price Index climbing 9.1 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace since 1981. The number was hotter than economists had expected, and spelled trouble for American consumers who are trying to make ends meet and for the Federal Reserve as it tries to contain rapid price increases.
Wednesday’s report dashed any hopes that inflation would recede substantively and politically before people start voting this fall. Now, it’s not all bad news (seriously!). As Brian Deese, the Director of the White House Economic Council pointed out on Twitter — this report is backward-looking and doesn’t reflect the recent drop in gas prices.
Nonetheless, Democratic majorities depend on our ability to navigate an economic environment defined by higher prices. Even if inflation starts to come down, it will dominate the political discussion. It will be featured in campaign ads and on the debate stage. The first question at nearly every candidate forum and town hall will likely be about inflation, whether someone is running for Senate, governor, mayor, or dogcatcher. There are no easy answers. There is no communications strategy or message that puts money in people’s pockets or magically changes the subject. But if Democrats are going to spend the next few months talking about inflation, I have a few thoughts on how to reframe the issue.
What the Polls Say
Pew Research released a poll this week that laid out, in stark detail, the immense challenges and potential opportunities facing Democrats this fall. First, according to the poll, 96 percent of Americans are concerned about the cost of food, 94 percent are concerned about the cost of gas, and 87 percent are concerned about the cost of housing.
These are stunning numbers and should wipe away the epically asinine notion pushed by some Twitter strategists that the media is to blame for inflation concerns. Second, voters agree with the Republicans on economic policy matters 40 to 33. Finally, (here comes the “good” news) Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are more popular than Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi are more popular than Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy. And the Democratic Party is more popular than the Republican Party.
The public holds Republicans in low esteem, which speaks to the importance of turning this election from a referendum on the cost of gas and groceries into a choice about which party will confront inflation.
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