It’s finally September, and that means we are about to hit the fourth quarter of our midterm election season. Labor Day marks the traditional beginning of the period when it actually matters what candidates do and say. Everyone is paying attention now and every news cycle counts. For months, the “experts” in Washington, D.C., predicted a red wave for Republicans in November but now the very same “experts” are having second thoughts.
In March, the Wall Street Journal’s generic ballot poll – conducted by Trump pollster and my friend Tony Fabrizio – showed Republicans ahead five points. Last week, the same poll had Democrats up three. A staggering political shift in just six months.
Let me be clear. President Joe Biden is NOT responsible for his party’s shifting fortunes. The midterms are no longer a referendum on his thin record. Instead, we now have a choice election with a GOP brand that has seen much better days.
President Biden’s approval ratings may have ticked up slightly, but two-thirds of Americans still say the nation is on the wrong track. This election should be all about the Biden White House – but right now, it’s not. My advice to the GOP is simple: focus on President Biden and don’t say or do anything stupid down the stretch.
This shouldn’t be difficult. Voters already believe things are heading in the wrong direction and they are smart enough to know where the buck stops. Every Republican campaign should talk about President Biden first, second and third. Focus on inflation, not party infighting. Energy prices, not endless debates about loyalty or possible indictments. Focus on the present, not the past.
Typically, incumbent senators have excellent chances to win re-election, more than 90%. Unfortunately, this cycle has quickly become a big unknown. Republicans must be smart about engaging in policy fights. Now is not the time to hand Democrats easy victories on bad policy, which allow them to shift the narrative away from the Biden administration’s failures. Unfortunately, that is what’s been happening.
This summer, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a staunch progressive and fierce defender of the Biden administration, introduced a bill that would hurt American consumers, change the way Americans use their credit cards, and put money into the pockets of big companies like Amazon and Walmart. It is also a blatant attempt by Durbin to shift blame for inflation away from the Democrats and the Biden administration and onto American job creators.
Republicans should not be fooled by this hidden tax that would strip Americans of billions of dollars a year in rewards and benefits. He has been looking for Republicans to sign onto his bill. Senators like Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., should not take the bait.
Durbin is not alone. The so-called “permitting reform bill” of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will do little to speed up energy project approvals. But you can bet the legislation will be trumpeted by Democrats as a massive victory for our economy. Republicans in tight political races, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, should be very wary of offering their support and giving President Biden another cheap and hollow victory. Remember, there is a reason Manchin is the least popular politician in America.
Republican must keep their eye on Biden’s policies and focus on dreadful agenda items that Democrats support, like ESG. Many American corporations pay dues to woke trade associations that force them to comply with their chosen environmental, social and governance standards, while individual investors are left out. Republicans would be wise to make Democrats explain why that’s a good idea to the American people and put them on the defense. This is an issue that is likely to lead to investigations if Republicans take over the House.
Don’t listen to the regular Washington, D.C., bedwetters. It is not too late for Republicans to win back both chambers of Congress. But Republican candidates must focus on Biden’s record and not give him any legislative victories between now and Election Day. If the GOP wins back the majority, Biden’s lurch to the left will end and stability with real checks and balances will be much better for our nation’s economy.