Amidst a turbulent economy, Democrats may lose one of the cornerstones of their voting blocs — independent women.
On Monday, a New York Times/Siena College poll revealed independent women favored the Republican party by 18 points. The figure represents a marked increase in support compared to Sept. polling.
"At the end of the day, voters are paying more for everything from groceries to energy," Karoline Leavitt, New Hampshire's Republican House nominee, told The Hill. "When families are struggling to make ends meet, and are having to decide between heating and eating, they are going to vote for change."
After the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion that allows states to decide their stance on the issue, Democrats began focusing much of their campaign rhetoric on abortion rights. Now, that strategy is being questioned.
According to one unnamed national operative of the Republican party, "Democrats have overplayed their hand so many times when it comes to these cultural issue[s]. [Women] can't afford to think about one issue and we're also smart enough to think about multiple issues."
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision, Democrats saw abortion rights as a winning issue to run against the GOP. And they set their sights on independent women as a key demographic to bolster them forward.
But in retrospect, the strategy was a gamble, which may prove costly given the rising gas prices and inflation.
Currently, Leavitt and her opponent, Democratic New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, are squared off in a virtual tie despite abortion being an important issue.
"The Biden agenda," Leavitt argues, "has been disastrous for Americans across the board. The most effective way to get our country back on track" is by stopping "reckless spending" and giving Americans more "energy independence."
Still, for one Democratic strategist, abortion rights remain a winning strategy.
"I have the same skepticism of this [New York Times] poll that I had of polling in 2016/2020, which is that it doesn't seem to account for a wave of first-time voters who aren't traditionally reached by pollsters," they said. "In 2016, those new voters were people Trump brought out. Now it's voters activated by abortion."
Despite the strategist's comment, other Democrats remain concerned that economic hardships may be piling up in the electorate. The Times' survey showed that 44% of voters placed inflation or the economy as their top concern.
"As we enter the final weeks of the 2022 midterm elections," Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian, "I am alarmed to hear the advice that many Democratic candidates are getting from establishment consultants and directors of well-funded Super PACs that the closing argument of Democrats should focus only on abortion."
Among other pressing issues facing both parties is the war in Ukraine and its surrounding nuclear rhetoric, which only factions of the GOP appear to be against.
On Friday, Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted that Democrats attached "billions of dollars" for military aid to Ukraine.
"Why didn't the news cover this," Massie wrote, "Democrats attached billions of dollars of Ukraine war spending to the bill that provided disaster relief for Florida. To vote to send money to Florida, you had to vote to increase chances of nuclear war. Is there no limit to their depravity?"
Last week, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went viral after two attendees at a town hall vehemently requested the congresswoman denounce the war in Ukraine and the threat of a nuclear holocaust.
"You ran as an outsider yet you voted to start this war in Ukraine," one of the attendees, in the video uploaded by Jose Vega, shouted. "You're voting to start a nuclear war with Russia and China!"
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