After months and months of Republicans leading Democrats on the 2022 generic ballot, the GOP has hemorrhaged enough support that it’s now tied with the Democrat Party.
As of Friday morning, both parties boasted 44.2 percent of the vote, according to averages maintained by FiveThirtyEight. RealClearPolitics meanwhile had Republicans up by a paltry 0.3 percentage points, down from a lead of 4.8 percentage points back in late April.
Democrats last held a lead over Republicans in November of last year. That lead has dissipated over time, as has President Joe Biden’s approval rating. The reasons why are obvious: Skyrocketing gas prices, worsening inflation, the border crisis, and disapproval with the president’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine.
What remains unclear is why the reverse now appears to be happening, with Republicans losing ground and Democrats suddenly picking up momentum.
Some say the reversal of Roe v. Wade and subsequent state-level banning of abortion has played a pivotal role in this turnaround.
As a Socialist I have to point this out. The only reason Democrats now lead on the generic ballot,is because the Republican Party over reached by banning abortion. That’s the reason not because Joe Biden has been great at getting his agenda done. https://t.co/PVF8JwBfU7
— AbeBlaine (@BlaineAbe) August 4, 2022
This theory does appear to fit to some extent.
As previously reported, this week the deep-red state of Kansas voted to keep abortion a state constitutionally protected right that cannot be outlawed by legislators.
“[T]he ‘no” vote did well not just in Democratic strongholds, but in conservative and rural areas, outperforming Joe Biden’s 2020 vote share there,” according to Politico.
That’s not a good sign, is it?
But Republicans have pushed back on this thinking, arguing that the public’s concern with rising inflation, gas prices, etc., will overpower their concern about abortion.
They’ve based this line of thinking on polls showing that Americans are far more concerned with inflation than they are with abortion.
“According to the latest Harvard/Harris poll, inflation is the overwhelming issue for a strong majority of voters, with 62 percent saying it is their first or second greatest concern. Abortion rights is in a cluster of second-tier issues that 20-something percent of people say is a first or second concern, along with energy prices, crime and immigration,” National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote in a Politico column last month.
“A Monmouth poll found that only five percent of voters said abortion was their top concern — nine percent of Democrats and zero percent of Republicans. Meanwhile, a New York Times/Sienna poll found exactly the same thing. It’s simply not possible to turn a national election on the basis of an issue that matters to such a relatively small proportion of people.”
This leads to the second possibility, which is that support for Democrats is growing because of falling gas prices.
In @FiveThirtyEight‘s generic ballot tracker, Dems are now even with GOP, closing a 2-pt spread over the last month. Falling gas prices + momentum on abortion rights + passage of Manchin/Schumer could deliver @POTUS a much better result in Nov. pic.twitter.com/uXWaNR6a2B
— Steven Rattner (@SteveRattner) August 4, 2022
The average price for gas in the United States has in recent weeks fallen by close to $1, according to data from GasBuddy.
However, the so-called Inflation Reduction Act that Democrats are on the verge of passing thanks to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s capitulation would reportedly re-spike inflation and gas prices.
“[W]e estimate that the Inflation Reduction Act would reduce long-run economic output by about 0.1 percent and eliminate about 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the United States,” according to the Tax Foundation.
“It would also reduce average after-tax incomes for taxpayers across every income quintile over the long run. By reducing long-run economic growth, this bill may actually worsen inflation by constraining the productive capacity of the economy.”
.@SenatorLankford: The Inflation Reduction Act “doesn’t reduce deficit, it doesn’t reduce inflation, it just raises taxes, it increases spending dramatically.”
— Newsmax (@newsmax) August 4, 2022
It’d also accomplish this by increasing demand.
The bill consists “of a large tax increase on corporations — which, because it will lead to increased prices, is inflationary — and a series of tax credits (read: subsidies) for energy companies, child-care providers, and Obamacare recipients — which, because they will leave their recipients with more disposable income and thereby increase demand, are inflationary,” according to National Review.
And so, depending on how quickly Democrats pass the bill and how quickly it then takes effect, Americans could conceivably see gas prices tick back up before the midterm elections in November.
Until then, however, it’s not clear what — if anything — Republicans could do to win back the support they’ve hemorrhaged.
— Conor Sen (@conorsen) July 28, 2022
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