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ANALYSIS: Democrats Pivot To New Midterm Strategy, But Will It Save Them?

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Sarah Weaver Staff Writer
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Amidst rising inflation, high gas prices, and record low approval ratings for president Joe Biden, Democrats are scrambling for a midterm strategy that appeals to voters and they may have just found it in healthcare policy. The question remains if the issue is important enough to swing voters to make up for the dismal odds the Democratic Party faces against the GOP in November.

As of this writing, Politico’s Election forecast predicts the House will go to Republicans in the 2022 midterms. Democrats hope to crawl back into the good graces of Americans with the Inflation Reduction Act, which they say will lower healthcare costs for Americans.

“Democrats plan to spend the next three months campaigning on their health policy wins, but nearly everything in the bill that voters would have felt immediately was stripped out,” Politico reported Friday. (RELATED: Biden’s Inflation Crisis Is Likely To Hit Healthcare Soon)

As the article points out, drug price negotiations that would lower the cost for Americans won’t begin until 2026 and price caps for spending on Medicare for seniors won’t take effect until 2025.

“Democrats will have some challenges selling this to voters because they will not have a lot tangible to show yet. So they’ll have to sell it mainly as a historic victory over Big Pharma and ask the public to trust them on the positive changes yet to come,” Larry Levitt, the Executive Vice President for Health Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Politico.

Voters care a lot about healthcare costs and access, but the question is do they care enough, and does this issue trump other concerns facing Americans. (RELATED: New Poll Dashes Dems’ Hopes Of Pro-Abortion Voters Thwarting A Red Wave)

Healthcare is undoubtedly a high priority issue for Democrat voters. Among likely Democrat midterm voters, 74% say healthcare is a very important issue for the midterms, according to a Pew Research poll. Importance is, however, a partisan topic, as only 44% of Republicans say it is a very important issue for them for November.

This may bode well for Democrats, assuming they can assure voters that their policies are positively impacting drug prices. But economic issues, a sore subject for Democrat voters in this economy, still remain a top issue for voters, trumping healthcare.

According to a Pew Research poll taken in March, healthcare is the third top issue for all voters, with 60% saying it is very important to their vote. The issue was heavily divided along partisan lines, with 44% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats saying it was a very important issue to them. (RELATED: ‘The Worst Ever’: CNN Host Delivers A Blow To Dems’ Midterm Hopes)

In the same poll, the economy still topped the list of important issues for both voters. Of those polled, 78% said the economy was a top issue for them. Even among Democrats, well over half of those polled said it was a very important issue, at 68%. A full 90% of Republican voters said the same thing.

This is bad news for Democrat midterm hopes judging from some recent polling that suggests that the Inflation Reduction Act will negatively impact Americans’ economic outlook.

A recent report from the University of Chicago found that Americans will spend more on healthcare under the Inflation Reduction Act, not less. The report said that total healthcare spending would increase by more than $50 billion over a period of 20 years under the drug pricing proposals in the legislation.

Similarly, the inflation crisis Americans face under the Biden presidency may hit healthcare costs the hardest, the Daily Caller’s Dylan Housman reports. This is a problem for Democrats, since their best hope for using healthcare to boost their midterm chances is in lowering prices, especially given the bleak economy inflation has gifted Americans. Current prices don’t reflect skyrocketing inflation, which will hit American pocketbooks much later.

Democrats’ best chance to make healthcare a deciding issue for midterm voters is in proving that their policies will reduce prices. Such a strategy would couple Democrats’ healthcare legislation with Americans’ understandable concern about the economy, and show midterm voters that left-wing healthcare policies can help ease the toll which the economy under Biden has taken. Proving this will be an uphill battle.