In the past week, various news organizations have run articles stating that the Democrats suddenly have hope for November. In the words of one Democrat strategist, “The vibe has shifted.” To quote the television program “Ted Lasso,” it’s the hope that kills.
Democrats feel buoyant right now because their so-called Inflation Reduction Act is making it through Congress. The CHIPS Act has likewise passed. Democrats feel like they have some momentum. It is understandable. It also comes as late summer and early fall polling begins the traditional bounce to Democrats.
Many Democrats believe there is a shift in polling over the Supreme Court ending Roe v. Wade. They see Republicans nominating supposedly weak candidates and think their superior candidates can persuade voters not to go Republican. They see former President Donald Trump suddenly back on the front page with a federal search of Mar-a-Lago and think voters will steer clear of the GOP. They see a lot, and, with the polling bounce, they have more emotional hope than rational belief.
Polling frequently shifts to the Democrats this time of year. Republicans tend to have more kids. Those Republicans are either taking last-minute vacations before school starts or they are getting back from vacation and back into school routines. In 2020, Democrats saw their polling surge. They had a 6.8% edge over the GOP in the polling average for the generic congressional ballot. No one saw the GOP wave coming that nearly cost the Democrats the House. While the polling average was 6.8%, the reality came out to 3.1% more votes for Democrats. After 2020, pollsters tried to assess what went wrong and came away with mixed reactions and no clue how to fix the problem. The consensus is Republicans are not responding to pollsters.
Now, in August, with the supposed “vibe shift,” the wind at their backs and a supposed surge in young voter support, Democrats and Republicans are statistically tied on the generic ballot, which is bad for Democrats. A tie tends to bode well for the GOP.
Then there is the real-world data Democrats prefer not to discuss. Despite President Joe Biden’s claim of 0% inflation in July, the actual number was 8.5%. Democrats passed their “Inflation Reduction Act” in the Senate and every news outlet in America has both dismissed its impact on inflation and covered it as a climate bill. Climate is not a priority for Americans. Additionally, between the Mar-a-Lago search by the FBI and the actual inflation number, the Democrats’ good vibes have been overshadowed by a foreboding sense of economic calamity.
Biden and his team may want to take credit for decreasing oil prices, but the reality is oil prices are down because economic activity is slowing and people are cutting back. One in two Americans cannot afford to fill up their car with gas. One in five Americans must put stuff back when they check out at the grocery store because they cannot afford their grocery bill.
Economists talk about an inflation problem. Americans increasingly realize they have an affordability problem. Since Democrats in Congress passed Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus plan in March of 2021, real-world wages have declined every month. Americans can no longer afford things they once could.
Gas prices are down, but still higher than when Biden took office. Gas is up 44%. Fuel oil is up 75.6%. Meat, poultry and fish are up 9.3%. Milk prices are up 15.6%. Eggs are up 38%. Baby food is up 15% and there is still a formula shortage. Coffee prices are up 20.3%. Public transportation costs are up 19%. Airline fares are up 27.7%. Real average hourly earnings are down 3%. Americans are falling further behind and wiping out savings just as a recession is forming.
Americans cannot afford Biden and the Democrats remaining in charge. They may not like Republicans, but they do remember this situation did not exist under Biden’s predecessor in office. Democrats can get their friends in the press to spin out tales of vibes and momentum, but the data tells the real story. Democrats’ hopes will kill them like their policies have killed our economy.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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