Economic Calamity, Political Opportunity

As the American economy sputters, especially for middle-income families, the Republican Party enjoys the largest lead ever on economic issues.

In Gallup polling that goes back over seven decades, voters give the edge on economic issues to the GOP by a whopping 53% to 39% margin vs. the Democrats, by far an all-time record.

Here is the spread in chart form:

Source: Axios

Notably, in presidential years, this spread has also correctly predicted the winner for the White House every time but once since 1984, with the photo-finish 2000 Bush-Gore race as the lone exception.

So, if this issue continues to favor Republicans, which seems almost certain given the economic trends discussed below, then the stage is set for sweeping right-wing populist victories into 2024…if the best nominees present the most clear and compelling agenda to financially anxious voters.

As patriots, we never welcome bad times for America. This current economic malaise flows entirely from miserable policy failures — it is not the result of bad luck, or simply the inevitable business cycle.

But when such economic angst arises, we on the populist Right must seize the moment. Our movement can provide the path out, to fix a mess we did not make, and then reap the considerable political rewards, as well.

So, what is the approach? Concentrate the messaging and focus on the plight of the dwindling middle class.

Concentrated Campaigning

Do not “major in the minors!” Granted, Biden’s tenure has been such an abject failure, with so many created crises (plural), that it is tempting to broadly fire political scattershot. All the issues matter, of course, from the border to politicized classrooms. But the issue most likely to produce political paydirt is the economy.

Here is the evidence: in a just-released Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll of the seven top battleground states, Biden is losing six of the seven. The drivers, according to the crosstabs of the survey, are immigration and the economy. On the economy, Biden is 17% underwater in this poll, even worse than the overall 14% Gallup deficit highlighted above for generic Dems vs. GOP.

In addition, conservative activists, donors, and candidates need to realize that angry, frustrated Americans hold both parties in very low regard. While citizens prefer the GOP on the economy, Independents express strong disapproval of both parties, as shown here:

Source: Gallup

In total, self-described Independents are now as large as a “party” as the Democrats and Republicans put together, so this massive middle group will decide most elections, from the presidency down to school boards. With nearly two thirds of Independents expressing disdain for both parties, it becomes an imperative for GOP candidates to laser focus on the issue where these independents express a clear embedded bias in favor the conservative side…the economy.

Middle Class Focus

Though Biden and his fellow Leftists claim to cater to the middle class, the actual on-the-ground reality reveals a shocking loss of prosperity and confidence among working-class Americans.

Right now, over 100 million Americans live in households that earn between $45,000 and $180,000 per year. Among those citizens, the average household lost $33,000 in net worth in just the last year, according to Bloomberg analysis. Those working-class Americans became victims of Biden’s 1970s-style “stagflation” which combines stagnant growth with soaring inflation.

In the latest Harris polling of this massive middle group, a paltry 39% believe that their personal financial situation will get better into 2024. Consequently, the latest Investors Business Daily index on Economic Optimism just collapsed to a new decade low, now sitting far below even the Spring 2020 lockdown nadir.

Investors Business Daily Optimism Index, back 5 years. Source: TradingEconomics.com

This pessimism reflects the harsh realities of American life, which becomes a financial slog for citizens of modest means. For example, home ownership has never been less affordable, according to Goldman Sachs analysis, due to rising interest rates and stubbornly elevated home prices. Similarly, even the NY Times concedes that car ownership costs have soared, with prices for used cars vaulting higher by 40% compared to pre-lockdown prices in early 2020.

Amid all this economic doom and valid middle class worry, the emerging populist Right can present workable fixes, starting with an end to D.C. leviathan spending increases that fuel punishing inflation. Moreover, unleashing America’s full energy potential via fossil fuels and nuclear will relieve the pricing stress of gasoline and other physical commodities.

Going forward, an insistence on onshoring and decoupling from China will restore American real wages (meaning adjusted for inflation). Protectionist measures can counter predatory and un-reciprocal trade. Finally, eliminating all illegal migration and restricting legal immigration will ease the housing affordability crisis while also lifting pay for aspirational American citizen strivers.

Our American brothers and sisters are hurting. We must move political mountains to restore their prosperity and earn their trust. So, to every conservative candidate and activist out there…seize this opportunity! Win your election while saving our country.

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About Steve Cortes

Steve Cortes is the founder of the League of American Workers. He formerly served as a senior advisor to President Trump, and a broadcaster with Fox News, CNBC, and CNN.

Photo: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 13: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at Tioga Marine Terminal on October 13, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Biden discussed how his Bidenomics agenda is creating good-paying union jobs, investing in infrastructure, accelerating the transition to a clean energy future, and combatting the climate crisis.(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)