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The Election Argument That Democrats Aren’t Making, but Must To Win

The economy remains voters top priority heading into the midterms, so it should be the Democrats top priority as well.

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Video narrated by Stan Greenberg

Look, it’s not rocket science. To win in November, Democrats must win an economic argument against the Republicans. 

One of our top priorities must be to inform voters that we can help working people with the high cost of living. And this is a volatile moment as two-thirds of the country thinks we’re on the wrong track.

There is a real danger that Democrats could lose if we talk up the economy and discuss the legislation we’ve passed through Congress, without first making clear that we’re running on an agenda that will continue to deal with the high cost of living. 

Democracy Corps recently did a large survey and found the economic argument that resonates most with voters. It’s pretty straightforward, so let me present it in the form of a 30 second ad:

Corporate profits are high, but hard working families aren’t seeing an increase in our paychecks.

I’m running for Congress, and if elected, the first thing I’m going to do is pass a bill that would deliver working people up to $600 a month to help with the rising costs of groceries, gas, and housing.

And I want to pay for it by taxing rich corporations, whose greed is unacceptable.

My Republican opponent is an extremist who takes contributions from oil and drug companies. And he doesn’t get it.

Let’s work together to tackle the high cost of living.

I’m Stan Greenberg, and I approve this message.

Pretty simple right? Let’s deconstruct the elements of the ad that are most important here.

What we found in our polling is that expanding the Child Tax Credit resonates almost more powerfully than anything else we’ve tested with working class voters under the age of 50. When voters understand that Republicans took the tax credit away, it is one of our most effective attacks. That expanded Child Tax Credit could deliver up to $600 a month in the pockets of working people.

It’s an economic promise that you can explain and show how it makes a difference in their lives. And at the same time, you show how Republicans are standing in the way.

But here’s the danger. When we tested arguments that tout Democratic accomplishments, talking up the economy and the creation of good jobs—while avoiding discussion of the challenges of high cost of living—those messages provided the worst results.

What we also found in our survey is that engaging on the crime issue hurts Democrats more than it helps. We get a reduced vote margin after we join the debate on funding and defunding the police. So, this is not the time to elevate the crime issue.

The good news is that Democrats hold or get to a four point lead when they contest the cost of living.

Time is short, but we can still make gains if we focus Democrats on making populist economic messages that appeal to working people.

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