Biden pollster: Here's how to "not get our a**** kicked" in November

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Spoiler alert: This advice will actually be precisely how — and why — Democrats will indeed “get our a**** kicked” in November. John Anzalone provides polling and political advice to both Joe Biden and Nevada governor Steve Sisolak, the latter of whom faces a tough re-election bid in this tough re-election environment. Read John’s post from earlier this week to see just how tough Nevada will be for Democrats, especially with Biden at 35% job approval in the Silver State.

Anzalone sits down with Politico’s Ryan Lizza to share the political advice he’s giving his clients as they face voters in an extraordinarily hostile environment. It’s pretty much the hair of the dog, supplemented by a lot of wishful thinking:

I think what we’re missing right now is that voters are very much in “What have you done for me lately?” They always are. And they don’t feel Democrats can get their shit together and get things done.

So if we’re able to do something — a skinny BBB or whatever — on health insurance costs, prescription drug costs, elderly care, childcare, that’s a big deal because it will give Democrats a competitive advantage on what they’re doing for working families. And it’ll cut through the inflation narrative, the Ukraine narrative, the Afghan narrative, the border narrative, et cetera. Right now, we don’t see that and we don’t have that.

Funny — isn’t that what Democratic strategists said about the bipartisan infrastructure bill? And for that matter, the inflation-catalyzing American Rescue Plan in March 2021? The sugar-high giveaways gave Democrats a brief boost, but were quickly forgotten even before inflation really took off in the summer and fall of 2021.

A “skinny” Build Back Better is an oxymoron, a complete contradiction in terms, but let’s look at it anyway. It would be another big-spending bill that would require de facto monetary expansion of the same kind as the big stimulus bill, and at almost exactly the same cost ($1.8 trillion as opposed to $1.9 trillion for the American Rescue Plan). This bill, however, wouldn’t have as many immediate “deliverables,” which means the only credit that Democrats would get would be that they actually passed something.

That’s only going to emphasize how badly they have fumbled away their control of Washington … and that assumes that they can pass it at all. It’s far more likely that, if the White House follows Anzalone’s advice, that they will spend a couple of months fighting with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and fail yet again, especially with inflation roaring away at the moment. Manchin’s made it clear that he’s in no mood to spend any more off-budget money. So all this will do would be to raise expectations yet again only to fail spectacularly … on issues that are far down the priority ladder for most voters.

Voters care about what touches their lives every day, not the perennial progressive hobby-horse agenda. That brings us to this hilarious argument:

Most Americans are pissed at the fact that they pay their fair share in taxes as middle-class people. They work hard. They want to see the benefits of the economy. They’re getting raises.

Yes, inflation’s eating it up, but I’ll tell you what they’re pissed about: … They see these big companies not paying any taxes. And Biden’s proposal of making those making over $400,000 pay a little bit more taxes and big corporations pay a little bit more taxes so they pay their fair share to make investments in healthcare and education and childcare is really important.

No, it’s not. Put aside for the moment that Biden’s actual tax proposals would hike costs for middle-class families too, both in higher taxes and in higher costs passed on to consumers from increased business taxes. That’s all esoteric at the moment, however, because consumers are living day-in, day-out with the corrosive effects of inflation and crime, both of which have gotten considerably worse under Democratic leadership. “They’re getting raises” is about as elitist as one can get when we look at the decline of actual buying power during Biden’s term in office, via the Wall Street Journal:

The March surge means that real wages fell 0.8%, or a decline of 2.7% in the last year. (See the nearby chart.) Real average weekly earnings fell a striking $4.26 in March alone, and they’ve fallen nearly $18 during the Biden Presidency. If you want to know why Americans are sour about the economy even as jobs are plentiful, this is it. Their real wages are falling while the prices of everyday goods and services are rising fast. The average worker Democrats invoke when they demand more federal spending is getting crushed by the inflationary consequences of too much federal spending.

Voters aren’t spending their days fretting over class warfare, especially given the results in both the economy and safety from Democrats’ obsession with it. They’re worrying every day about how much food and gas they can buy to feed their families and get to work, thanks to rapid inflation and the regressive impact it has. Furthermore, the kind of class warfare Anzalone wants to wage in his efforts to “dial up populism” targets the very households who are struggling the most with inflation and crime — low-income households. Those are the voters who are figuring out right now that they were better off when class-warriors weren’t in charge, which is why demos that were previously favorable to Democrats have begun to bail out of their coalitions.

Nevertheless, let’s hope that Biden and Sisolak continue to follow Anzalone’s advice. The red wave cannot be big enough in November.