Voters Would Rather Afford Groceries Than ‘Save Democracy’

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In Pennsylvania, as the AP recently reported, the conversation among residents visiting a food pantry at Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem focuses on the high cost of groceries and difficulties finding affordable housing.
Meantime, in Athens, Ga., friends, acquaintances, and classmates of Laken Riley are wondering if their campus is safe after Laken’s murder, allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant who had a previous arrest record.
In Democratic strongholds like Denver, Chicago, and New York, city services are at risk due to the influx of thousands of undocumented migrants who are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, tone-deaf politicians drone on about “saving democracy,” oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of voters care far more about putting food on the table and walking around their communities without getting mugged (or worse) than about some nebulous notion of democracy at risk.
A recent Economist/YouGov poll of more than 1,500 U.S. adult citizens showed inflation/prices as the top issue (20%), followed by health care (14%), immigration (12%), and jobs and the economy (11%).
Even abortion, with its resurgence as a top election issue following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, is the top issue among only 5% of respondents.
And an Emerson College poll of 1,225 registered voters found 30% ranked the economy (jobs, inflation, and taxes) as the most important issue facing the U.S. Immigration ranked highest for 21%, while “threats to democracy” was a significantly lower 14%. Abortion access was even lower at just 5%.
Why, then, is President Joe Biden staking his re-election campaign firmly in the soil of “saving democracy?” Simply put: He has no record to run on when it comes to what voters really care about — rising costs, safe communities, and results over rhetoric.
Of course, the president claims he has helped lower inflation. The AP recently reported, “Biden can make an increasingly strong case that he’s helped fix inflation — if only he can get voters to believe him.”  
But voters don’t believe him, and for good reason. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, even with cooling inflation, “services and household items remain stubbornly expensive.”
It’s little wonder, then, that a recent Monmouth University survey found 40% of Americans have not felt any economic benefits from Biden’s policies — despite what Biden tells them.  
As one barbershop owner in heavily Democratic Philadelphia recently put it, “I don’t hear Biden talking about what he’s going to do for us ... Comparing the economy from when he [Trump] was in office until when Biden was in office, it’s like a lot of people are talking about they’d rather have Trump in office. The economy was going much better.”
To be fair, some die-hard Democrats will check the Democratic box on the ballot regardless of the candidate or the message. And, similarly, some die-hard Republicans can’t be persuaded away from voting red.
But for low-propensity Republican voters and disaffected Democratic voters — who number in the millions across the country and are notable voting blocks in swing states like Pennsylvania — this November’s election won’t be about red or blue. It won’t be about democracy or abortion. It will be about buying groceries and staying safe.
The candidates who win — Democrat or Republican — will be those who convince voters that electing them will bring a positive change to their family budgets.
The candidates who win will be those who give voters hope that their neighborhoods can once again be safe places to live and raise families.
In short, the candidates who succeed this November — from president down to local state house and senate races—will be those who connect with voters on the issues they most care about and provide clear plans for getting results.

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