The news keeps getting better for Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterms.
RealClearPolitics aggregates polls on the generic congressional ballot. A simple question is posed to potential voters: If the election happened today, which party they would want to control the House of Representatives? In recent months, all but one poll showed Democrats ahead on this measure since April. However, Quinnipiac conducted this type of poll twice in the last three weeks, and the results moved seven points in favor of Republicans over that timeframe.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi earned her lowest approval rating in the last two years at 35%, but this is still higher than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at 27%. The disconnect could be related to name recognition. Only 4% of respondents did not have an opinion about Pelosi. A full 23% did not have one about McCarthy. With 61% of registered voters disapproving of Pelosi, she is a much easier figure to run against than McCarthy at 49%. In some cases, the devil you don’t know is preferable to the one you do.
The results for the Senate leaders are similarly counterintuitive, given that respondents expressed a preference for Republican control of the House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds a 34% approval rating, while Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s approval rating is 23%. The name recognition for the two men is similar.
The poll certainly provides an opportunity for Republicans to educate voters better. The support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill are 63% and 56%, respectively. Yet when respondents give their opinion about spending, 39% say they want the government to help Americans but not to overspend. An additional 24% believe the government shouldn’t do more to help. Only 33% think the government should help a lot more.
Republicans should be all over the economic consequences of the reconciliation bill. It currently includes daycare subsidies with no income limit and free community college. Only about 28% of students graduate from a community college after four years. Yet taxpayers will subsidize anyone who wishes to attend. The bill also reverses the welfare reform of the 1990s by giving a per-child benefit with no work requirement.
The tax provisions are just as bad. Raising taxes on business owners reduces investment. These dynamics also suppress wages, reduce employment, and increase consumer prices. Republicans can point to the current levels of inflation and explain how it will only get worse. The Green New Deal provisions will hit working- and middle-class families the hardest. Fuel prices will continue to climb, affecting not just energy prices but also freight and production costs. These cost pressures add to the inflationary trends we already see, resulting in an effective tax increase for all Americans.
In these conversations, Republicans need to get serious about rational proposals to address the environment. The good news is that when asked about action to address climate change, 22% say the United States is doing too much. This result is nearly a three-fold increase from August. However, 57% still say there is more to be done. In 2019, 68% of respondents in a survey were not willing to pay $10 more a month for their electric bill to address the problem.
This combination is a perfect opportunity to talk about innovation rather than elimination to reduce carbon emissions–whether it is safe nuclear energy, the prospects for fission becoming a reality, or even the car in Israel that runs on air, water, and common metals. These emerging technologies will help us build on the carbon reductions the U.S. realized using natural gas and maintaining energy independence. The GOP positioning itself as the party of the future, not one trying to retrofit technology from the 1970s that uses tons of land and rare metals, is a timely and necessary messaging goal.
The attempts of congressional Democrats and President Biden to frame Republicans as obstructionists do not appear to be working. Americans seem to see that divisions in the Democrat caucus are causing the legislative deadlock. Clear communication about the rationale for opposing the debt limit is necessary to maintain this sentiment. In three weeks, a seven-point swing is quite a shift. Republicans could easily widen it with disciplined economic and environmental messaging.