American Opinion in July 2022.

            In general, Americans think that the country is headed in the wrong direction.[1]  “In general” means north of 75 percent.  Only about 13 percent think that it is headed in the right direction.[2]  Democrats are reading the tea leaves in hopes of staving off a landslide in November 2022.  On a Congressional level, they are not without hope in mid-July 2022.  A recent poll shows respondents favoring Democrats over Republicans by 41 to 40 percent.  Likely voters favored Republics over Democrats by 44 to 43 percent.  So, pump up the turnout. 

            Beneath that headline, things still look grim.  Black support remains strong, with 78 percent favoring Democrats.  After that, it falls off steeply: 57 percent of white college graduates, 52 percent of those aged 30 to 44 years, 46 percent of those aged 18 to 29, 44 percent of women, 41 percent of Hispanics, and 34 percent of Asians lean Democratic. 

The issues that pre-occupy voters are economic and personal.  Three quarters rated the economy as “extremely important” to them.  Virtually all (93 percent) of working-age people rated the economy as poor or, at best, fair shape.  In particular, “jobs and the economy” ranked first among the issues for 20 percent of those polled; with inflation ranking first with another 15 percent.  Among this group, voters prefer Republican control of Congress over Democratic control by 62 to 25 percent. 

In contrast, the stories that lead the daily news reports are either fading away for the moment or have failed to get traction with most voters.  Only 10 percent ranked “the state of American democracy and political division” as the most important problem.  Only 10 percent ranked gun policies as the most important issue.  Only 5 percent ranked abortion rights as the most important problem.[3]  Even among women, only a tiny share—9 percent—ranked abortion as the most important issue.  About 5 percent of voters ranked either education, or crime, or immigration, or the coronavirus first among issues.  In a perhaps unintentionally brutal aside, one New York Times reporter said that “Democrats are maintaining the loyalty of a crucial sliver of [financially secure,] predominantly liberal and highly educated voters [who]… care more about debates over guns, democracy and the shrinking of abortion rights than the state of the economy.” 

Well, not many people are single-issue voters and political parties are big containers for people with different issues.  Thus it has always been.  Perhaps the Democrats can cobble together a winning coalition out of women, Blacks, young people, and nerds.  They’ve done it before.  Perhaps the Republicans will make one or more unforced errors.  They’ve done it before. 

There doesn’t seem to be much that the Democrats can do about the state of the economy.  Between them, the Trump and Biden administrations ran up the basic money supply from $15 trillion to $22 trillion between 2020 and 2022.  That’s what is causing the inflation, although the supply chain issues and the Ukraine war and the Biden administration’s energy polices have all aggravated matters.  It’s just going to take too much time for the Federal Reserve to fix things. 

[1] Nate Cohn, “Midterm Race Appears Tight, Polling Shows,” NYT, 14 July 2022; Shane Goldmacher, “Democrats Sour on Biden, Citing Age and Economy,” NYT, 11 July 2022. 

[2] One in eight Americans think that high inflation, supply chain problems, bitter partisan politics leading to Congressional gridlock, and an arms-length engagement in a war of attrition with another nuclear power is “moving in the right direction”?  I had no idea that there were so many Satanists. 

[3] At the same time, 65 percent said that abortion should be legal under most or all circumstances.  It just isn’t the most important issue for most of its supporters. 


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