With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, polls are showing that American voters are not only the most enthused about the midterm elections in history, but they’re also angry.
Democrats know they’re about to lose control of the House — for sure — and are very likely to lose the Senate, perhaps by as many as seven seats, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted on Tuesday. The GOP needs just five seats to take the House and only one seat to control the Senate.
It’s all so bad for Democrats that they’re already getting their stories together on who and what to blame for what many pollsters are predicting will be a thumping on Nov. 8.
Former President Barack Obama, who hit the campaign trail in a desperate attempt to stem the losses, was brutal in his assessment last week of what’s dragging Democrats down, saying they’re a “buzzkill.”
“When we’re talking about putting together … durable majorities, we have to be able to speak to everybody about their common interests,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with “Pod Save America.”
“Where we get into trouble sometimes is when we try to suggest that some groups are more — because they historically have been victimized more, that somehow they have a status that’s different than other people,” he said. “And that we’re going around scolding folks if they don’t use exactly the right phrase, or that identity politics becomes the principal lens through which we view our various political challenges.”
James Carville, the chief strategist for Bill Clinton, was famed for framing the 1992 presidential race with just four words: “It’s the economy, stupid.” He, too, says Democrats are far too focused on abortion while Americans care most about inflation, gas and food prices, rampant crime, and the porous southern border.
“A lot of these consultants think if all we do is run abortion spots that will win for us. I don’t think so,” he said. “It’s a good issue. But if you just sit there and they’re pummeling you on crime and pummeling you on the cost of living, you’ve got to be more aggressive than just yelling ‘abortion’ every other word.”
And Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders says Democrats are spending too much time moaning about abortion rights and far too little on one of his key issues, economic inequality. “I don’t believe it can be the only issue,” Mr. Sanders said on CNN.
“At a time when we have an economy in which the wealthiest people, the billionaire class, are getting much, much richer while working people are struggling to put food on the table, it goes without saying that we have to focus on the economy,” he said.
The bottom line: Voters are angry about inflation in the form of soaring gasoline and food prices, and they don’t care much about other issues this time around.
“We know that many voters will be casting ballots with anger on their minds. We just don’t know who which side will be angrier,” Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates told NBC News.
His poll, conducted with Republican Bill McInturff and his team at Public Opinion Strategies, found that 70% of registered voters have high interest in the election — either a “9” or a “10” on a 10-point scale. That’s the highest percentage ever in their surveys for a midterm election.
“It’s an eye-popper,” said Mr. McInturff, who noted that the number is higher than in 2018, which set a turnout record for a midterm election.
What’s more, Republicans are more jazzed than Democrats for the midterms. Among GOP voters, 78% of Republicans have high interest, compared with 69% of Democrats. But while Mr. Horwitt says he doesn’t know who’s angrier, his poll shows this: That 9-point edge for Republicans is triple what it was in the pollsters’ survey in September.
Midterm elections usually draw fewer Americans to the polls, and happy people will sometimes skip them since they don’t include a vote for president. But that is set to change this time around, and Mr. Gingrich predicts it’ll be bad.
“I would say we’ll be between plus three and plus seven … in the Senate; and we’ll be between plus 20 and plus 50 in the House, with the most likely number being plus 44,” Mr. Gingrich told The Epoch Times.
“Almost everywhere in the country, races are showing the Republicans tightening up,” Mr. Gingrich said, noting that inflation, crime, border security and “woke policies,” are all “coming together” against Democrats’ favor.
“When you have sort of insane left-wing Democrats who believe that you don’t need prisons and that things can be dealt with by just being nice to murderers, I think the average person just thinks this is crazy,” he said, pointing to the soaring crime and revolving-door policies in New York City.
And Mr. Carville is, of course, still right 30 years later: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.