AMAC Exclusive – By Claire Brighn
In the final weeks of the legendary 1980 campaign that made Ronald Reagan president, Reagan stood before the nation at his sole presidential debate with failing incumbent Jimmy Carter and urged voters to ask themselves a simple question, one that instantly became timeless in American political lore. “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Reagan asked.
As Republicans fight to win over the last remaining undecided voters this November, they would do well to reprise Reagan’s iconic question. Are Americans better off now than they were just two years ago, when Joe Biden became president and Democrats took both chambers of Congress? By any relevant metric, the answer is sure to be a definitive “no” – making a clear case for a change in Washington.
Everything Is More Expensive
Even something as simple as putting a meal on the table has become more difficult under Democrat rule. Since last year, the price of eggs is up 40%, milk is up 17%, and margarine is up about 40%. In total, grocery prices are up roughly 13% – the largest uptick in more than four decades. Even toilet paper prices have soared – the average roll is 6% to 8% shorter but 8% to 10% more expensive than it was two years ago.
Though gas prices have come down somewhat in recent months from record highs last summer, they are still sitting around $3.70 per gallon – up from $2.40 when Biden took office—and in many places, they are much higher than that. Meanwhile, public transportation costs are up more than 20% since last year. And when you get home after that newly-expensive commute and flip on the lights and heating, the electricity will cost you 16% more and the natural gas will cost you 40% more. Home heating costs are set to skyrocket again this upcoming winter.
Even previously comfortable and financially secure Americans are now feeling the pinch. According to a recent Gallup poll, 56% of Americans cite financial hardship due to price increases. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that for the past 17 months, inflation has outpaced wages. Nonetheless, despite the fact that their policies have directly led to these financial hardships, Democrats voted in August to raise taxes on the middle class, hire 87,000 IRS agents to harass families and small businesses, and ultimately worsen inflation.
Rents Are Up, Wealth Is Tanking, And Savings Are Depleting
Entering young adulthood and planning for the future is also a far more daunting prospect now than it was two years ago. Median monthly rent is about $1,900 – roughly $200 more than last year. 30-year mortgage rates just hit the highest levels since 2008, dramatically reducing the price of the home a homebuyer can afford. Credit card debt is increasing at the fastest clip in over two decades. Pair this with an April BMO Real Financial Progress survey showing that 60% of young Americans aged 18-34 say they’ve had to reduce contributions to their savings, and it is clear that for many, the American Dream of owning a home and building generational wealth is being destroyed by Democrat policies.
It’s not just young people who are struggling to make ends meet. In the same poll, 1 in 4 Americans say they will need to delay retirement due to skyrocketing prices. Many retirees have even re-entered the workforce because of inflation. Another survey found that about half of Americans 55 and older have dipped into emergency savings as a result of inflationary pressures.
To top it off, the stock market has continued to plummet as new economic numbers hit and investors make quick moves to shore up future losses. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq have each taken nosedives in recent weeks, crushing public pension funds, retirement accounts, and 401(k)s.
Americans Feel Less Safe as Crime Wave Continues Unabated
According to Gallup, 80% of Americans are worried about crime – the highest figure since 2016. Last year, homicides, robberies, and carjackings spiked across the country, and a number of Democrat-run cities are set to outpace these numbers again this year.
In January, a poll found that about 70% of Philadelphia residents cited crime, drugs, and safety as the top issue facing the city – a drastic 30 point jump from August 2020. As crime levels continue to worsen, this tracks with a more recent Siena poll showing that 70% of New York City residents feel less safe now than they did before the pandemic.
The crosstabs in the Siena poll should be of particular interest for Republicans running in districts that are competitive or lean Democratic: 70% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans, and 73% of Independents said they felt “less safe,” indicating a broad bipartisan consensus on the need to address crime. Moreover, the most notable spread occurred between sexes, not races: 63% of men said they feel less safe whereas 77% of women said the same – providing Republicans a critical opportunity to win back the women voters they lost ground with in 2020.
Radical Leftism Running Amok in Education as Achievement Dips
Measurable outcomes for K-12 learning show student test results are falling disastrously. The first national test results of nine-year-olds comparing scores before and after school closures show a five-point drop in reading levels, and a seven-point drop in math – the first drop recorded in the test’s history.
A growing number of parents of all political persuasions are also waking up to the reality that their children’s schools have become breeding grounds for toxic left-wing ideologies like Critical Race Theory and gender theory. It is no surprise that student achievement in math and reading is lagging considering schools are teaching sex-ed to kindergartners and replacing traditional instruction with lessons on “Whiteness Theory.”
Confidence in the Future Is Falling
There is perhaps no clearer sign that Americans are worse off than they were two years ago than the fact that measures of national confidence in the future have tumbled in recent months. According to a recent ABC/Ipsos poll, 69% of Americans say the economy is getting worse. Additionally, a recent AP-NORC poll shows 85% of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction (78% of Democrats said this – a 56-point jump from when Biden first took office).
This would imply that not only are Independent voters persuadable, but even some Democrats are primed for a change in direction. Now, it will be up to Republicans to make the right arguments – and ask the right questions – to capitalize on voter frustrations and take back control of Congress this November.
Claire Brighn is the pen name of a conservative researcher and writer with previous domestic and foreign policy experience in the Executive Branch.