Parties hope to find an October surprise to shock sentiment against opponents late in the race, but voters are focusing less on transient irritations and more on cardinal concerns the closer they get to making their decision.
As transient annoyances disappear, the public’s enduring concerns stand out like rocks becoming increasingly visible over an ebb tide. So the GOP’s election prospects are helped by Fox News’ latest finding that 59% of people are deeply concerned about rising prices. Inflation is unequivocally the fault of President Joe Biden and the Democrats — it came before Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine allowed the real culprits to cloud the waters — so voters know Washington’s leadership is a pain in their pockets. The ability to replace many of them is less than seven weeks away.
The ‘future of democracy’ is extremely worrying for half of the respondents, but that cuts both ways, because one side seems to pose as much of a danger as the other. Then there’s a 45% abortion policy, which helps the Democrats, and higher crime rates of 43%, which favors Republicans. Two of the top three numbers therefore break for the Republicans.
The persistence of inflation as a fact and as the source of public unrest makes the GOP victories that Washington thought was “baked in” six months ago but collapsed like a premature souffle this summer seem possible again. Hence Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is talking optimistic behind the scenes after weeks of gloom and complaints about weak Trumpy candidates.
In the race for the seat of Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who is retiring, Republican JD Vance is tied with Democrat Tim Ryan, according to the latest Marist poll, and incumbent Governor Mike DeWine’s 18 points lead over his blue challenger could give Vance red coattails to ride on. dr. Mehmet Oz narrows the lead enjoyed by Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman, his debate-shy opponent who appears to be hiding ailments linked to a recent stroke. So the race for the Senate seat to be vacated by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is up for grabs. Over-optimism about Senator Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) chances of keeping his seat has led to laughable stories about his presidential chances, but former football star Herschel Walker is more likely to plow him under just as he plowed through NFL defenders back in the days.