Here is some interesting commentary on the national political outlook from National Journal’s CongressDaily AM…
This year the political environment provides many opportunities for the Democrats on the economic front. Several of their top pickup opportunities are in lower-income districts that have suffered from job losses in recent years. Democrats there have run fairly populist campaigns: supporting a minimum wage increase, attacking free-trade agreements, and railing against high prices at the pump.
Blue-collar voter insecurity, in particular, is jeopardizing the electoral bids of Republican incumbents in GOP-leaning districts. In Indiana, the auto manufacturing industry has been laying off workers. In Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney‘s district, the NRCC is even running an attack ad against Democratic candidate Zack Space that acknowledges unemployment is a serious issue in southeastern Ohio — not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Republicans.
Even with such opportunities, though, one of the Democrats’ biggest lines of criticism might be fading. For the last several months, they’ve been attacking Republicans for the high price of gas and their connections to “Big Oil.”
Last week, Democratic state Sen. Chris Murphy, running against Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., aired an ad asking “why Congress won’t do anything about these outrageous gas prices.” A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad slams Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., for taking “thousands in big oil and gas donations.”
Democratic Cincinnati Councilman John Cranley has accused Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, of voting “to give billions in tax breaks to oil and energy companies.”
But this was a much more potent line of criticism when gas prices were above $3 per gallon. With prices now dropping, it’s unlikely to have the same resonance. Voters’ perception of the economy might improve with the dropping gasoline prices, because those prices are such a vivid visual indicator of the state of the economy.
Both parties are relying on tried-and-tested formulas to win.
Still, the news cycle sometimes can make once-trusty strategies seem outdated. For Republicans, will voters begin to fear higher taxes and turn that into motivation to vote for the GOP? For Democrats, will lower gas prices undercut their argument that Republicans have messed up the economy? Less than six weeks to go.
Personally (and I will admit I am biased), it seems to me that there has been a national trend as of late working for Republicans. With gas prices dropping like a rock, the New Orleans Saints back up and running on a national stage (which many will associate as the end of rebuilding in the Chocolate City) and letters from Zarqawi about strength issues within Al Qaeda to name a few – one has to ask the question – did the Dems peak too soon? Did they hang their hats on the wrong issues this cycle?