A majority of likely 2022 Washington State voters agree more with Democrats than Republicans about the causes of inflation and price increases, a survey conducted last week for the Northwest Progressive Institute has found.
50% of 782 likely voters interviewed for NPI by Public Policy from October 19th-20th said they agreed more with Democrats about the causes of inflation and price increases, while 43% agreed with Republicans more. 7% were not sure.
Republicans have tried to claim throughout 2022 that President Biden’s policies, including the administration’s response to COVID-19 are to blame for increases in the cost of living that Americans are grappling with.
Yet our research shows that most Washington voters are more in agreement with Democrats that what’s driving inflation and price increases are Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, the economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, and corporate profiteering that Republicans won’t help rein in.
Here’s the full text of the question we asked and the answers we received:
QUESTION: Democrats say that recent inflation and price increases are being driven by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, the economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, and corporate profiteering that Republicans won’t help rein in. Republicans say that inflation and price increases are being driven by Democrats’ reckless spending, vaccine mandates, and supply chain woes Biden hasn’t fixed. Who do you agree with more concerning the causes of inflation?
- Agree with Democrats more: 50%
- Agree with Republicans more: 43%
- Not sure: 7%
Our survey of 782 likely 2022 Washington State midterm voters was in the field from Wednesday, October 19th through Thursday, October 20th. The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5% at the 95% confidence interval.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and text message answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
Republicans may excel at messaging and relentless propaganda dissemination, but as we can see, there are limits to their noise machine’s effectiveness.
Democrats have an opportunity to go on offense regarding the cost of living by reframing and providing voters the context that Republicans are trying to conceal.
The truth is, we live in a world with a globally integrated economy and inflation is a global problem. It’s not just the United States that is experiencing it. Every region and every continent has been affected. Inflation is actually worse in Europe and many other places in the world than it is here in the United States. World events, especially the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, are driving inflation. But there’s also another cause that former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been thankfully trying to draw attention to: corporate profiteering.
Inflation in the United States is also being caused by corporations raising their prices faster than their costs to fatten their profit margins.
The evidence of this is now all around us.
Corporate profit margins are at record highs.
“The companies who set prices are really reluctant to stop increasing them,” says Jeanna Smialek, who writes about the Fed for the New York Times. “What we saw was that corporations were actually pocketing quite a bit more profit off this… They’re still putting up prices very rapidly, even in instances where their own costs are starting to fall.”
Corporate profits continue to climb even as consumers are taking it on the chin. It’s a giant redistribution from consumers to corporations.
“Until Democrats tell it like it is, their electoral majorities will continue to be fragile,” Reich says. And he makes a very, very good point. Democrats should be campaigning on a windfall profits tax and corporate accountability.
It has been said that every good story has a hero and a villain. Republicans want to make President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Democrats the villains in this year’s inflation story. But the real villains are dictators like Vladimir Putin and corporate CEOs who are happily exploiting people’s economic hardship. If Democrats don’t name and blame those villains, Republicans’ narrative is more likely to stick.
The results of the question we asked last week about the causes of inflation show that despite Republicans’ best efforts so far, an opening remains for Democrats to engage in a dialogue with voters about what’s really happening.
Sure, the voting has started, ads are already up on the air, and many strategic decisions have already been made. But millions upon millions of Americans haven’t voted yet, especially those who are undecided. A window of opportunity remains for Democrats to talk to those voters and rebut Republicans’ narrative.
Republicans haven’t actually proposed any ideas or policies to help middle and low income Americans who are grappling with inflation. They’re just playing a big blame game and urging voters to take out their frustration on Democrats.
Democrats, meanwhile, have actually come up with and passed ideas to combat inflation. The Inflation Reduction Act, for example, is so named because it seeks to address Americans’ cost of living concerns and tangibly help them.
Empowering Medicare to start negotiating prescription drug prices is a big, big deal. Despite having real accomplishments to tout and good ideas to go even further, Democrats have struggled to make their case to voters.
On so-called social issues or in defense of democracy, the party is increasingly good at speaking with one voice. Democrats have seized the offensive in response to the Supreme Court’s horrific Dobbs decision, for example, and Democrats also speak with clarity and conviction on LGBTQ+ rights and gun safety.
But on economic justice, not so much.
The party does fortunately have role models it can turn to and trust in right now.
Reich, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Bernie Sanders are among those who speak with great conviction and passion on matters of economic justice. They’re good storytellers and they don’t pass up an opportunity to reframe.
If more Democrats followed the example of these bold and inspiring leaders, the party’s prospects of success in these midterms would brighten.
Democrats are very fortunate in that they have a more fired up and motivated base than they had in 2010 or 2014. Polls suggest many races are close and could go either way. To win, Democrats must be ready to go out and make the strongest possible closing argument. Aggressively addressing tough issues like cost of living head on and calling out the real villains is necessary and important.