Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state elections. The 2021 off-year races were a curtain-raiser for the midterms -- and the stage was full of bad mojo for Democrats.
Third Way has a memo from Bryan Stryker:
We conducted focus groups among suburban NOVA and Richmond Biden voters to understand why they swung to Youngkin or seriously considered doing so. A few things
stood out to us about these voters, where our national and Virginia problems
compounded each other to swing the state to Republicans:
1. Our weak national brand left us vulnerable. Voters couldn’t name anything that Democrats had done, except a few who said we passed the infrastructure bill. That bill didn’t overcome their opinions that we have spent the last year infighting and careening from crisis to crisis.
2. Voters are unhappy with the direction of the country and don’t think we get it. They aren’t hearing solutions from us, they don’t think we’re doing anything to address the big issues (lack of workers + rising prices), and in general they just aren’t seeing the smoother ride they thought they’d get after having voted out Trump.
3. Voters believe the economy is bad, and no amount of stats can change their mind (at least in the short term). Jobs numbers, wage numbers, and the number of people we’ve put back to work don’t move them. We should still talk about these (more the wage and back-to-work numbers), but we should realize that they will have limited impact when people are seeing help wanted signs all over main street, restaurant sections closed for lack of workers, rising prices, and supply disruptions. Even where things are getting better, Biden doesn’t get credit.
4. Voters think we are focused on social issues, not the economy. They aren’t hearing us talk about the economy enough, and the things they are hearing about our agenda (people mentioned the child tax credit, paid leave, free college) don’t have to do with getting people back to work or taking on the cost of goods. That’s deadly in an environment when it’s the top issue.