Voters in swing House districts are fixated on rising inflation and rising gas prices, according to fresh Republican polling, highlighting the difficult political challenges confronting Democrats ahead of midterm elections.
In polling commissioned for former Vice President Mike Pence’s political nonprofit group, 25% of registered voters in four battleground House districts cited “inflation and rising gas prices” as the issues they are most concerned about. Another 12% said their top priority was the “economy and jobs.” With President Joe Biden struggling to connect with voters on these issues, the Democrats’ five-seat House majority is increasingly in jeopardy — as is their slim Senate majority.
Pence’s group, Advancing American Freedom, is in the middle of a $10 million campaign to boost Republican prospects in the midterm elections as the former vice president mulls a 2024 presidential bid. As a part of that investment, Advancing American Freedom hired veteran Republican pollster Dave Sackett to survey voters in four swing House districts to gain a broader understanding of the issues driving the electorate. As suggested in national polling, the economy, specifically inflation, is king.
Sackett, from the Tarrance Group, examined voter attitudes in Iowa’s Des Moines-anchored 3rd Congressional District; eastern Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District, dominated by the Kansas City suburbs; Minnesota’s St. Paul-anchored 2nd Congressional District; and northeastern Pennsylvania’s Scranton-anchored 8th Congressional District. The sample size was 400, with 100 coming from each district, and the margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
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There was one bright spot for Democrats in the data. After inflation and rising gas prices, the issue most concerning to voters (20%) was the Supreme Court and a pending decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade, eliminating federal protection for abortion rights. Coming in third on voters’ priority list, at 14%, was climate change and the environment. But overall, the polling pointed to more advantages for the Republicans.
Among the survey’s key findings:
- Twenty-five percent of voters hold Biden “most” responsible for inflation and rising gas prices; another 12% blame Democrats in Congress. Twenty-one percent blame oil companies; 14% blame Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Among independents, 32% hold Biden or Democrats in Congress “most” responsible for inflation and rising gas prices.
- Among voters aged 45 and older, 30% blame Biden “most” for inflation and rising gas prices.
- Sixty percent of voters believe the Biden administration is not doing enough to increase domestic energy production.
- Fifty-nine percent of voters favor expediting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project Biden has delayed indefinitely because of climate change concerns.
- Fifty-six percent of voters support the federal government granting energy companies new leases to drill for oil and gas on federal lands. The administration has moved slowly on granting new leases, also because of climate change concerns.
Accelerated activity by Advancing American Freedom is another sign that Pence is gearing up for a 2024 presidential run, although no decisions have been made.
The former vice president, who is traveling prodigiously to support GOP candidates on the 2022 ballot, has made several trips to key early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Pence was recently in Georgia to support Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who held off a primary challenge from former Sen. David Perdue, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Pence is making it known that his decision on whether to seek the White House in 2024 is not predicated on Trump’s plans. In a March interview with the Washington Examiner, the former president said he was disinclined to pick Pence as his running mate should he run for president a third time and win the GOP nomination. Pence’s inner circle has made it clear that the feeling is mutual.
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In comments Pence posted on Twitter just after Kemp’s victory over Perdue, the former vice president took a veiled shot at Trump and his focus on the last election. Trump continues to insist that the 2020 election was stolen and has made that issue both the centerpiece of his messaging and a priority when considering candidate endorsements.
“Republicans can only win by offering real, lasting solutions to the problems Democrats have created for the American people,” Pence tweeted. “If Republicans come together and focus on the future, we won’t just win the next election, we will win a future of freedom for all the American people.”