Biden's pollster says Democrats are blowing it on their economic messaging: 'We're scared of our own shadow on taxes'

Biden's pollster says Democrats are blowing it on their economic messaging: 'We're scared of our own shadow on taxes'
President Joe Biden speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport, in Des Moines Iowa, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, en route to Washington.AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
  • A top Biden pollster argues Democrats must overhaul their campaign messaging or face a wipeout.
  • "We're scared of our own shadow on taxes," Biden 2020 pollster John Anzalone told Politico.

A top pollster for President Joe Biden argues that Democrats are blowing it on a key part of their economic messaging ahead of the November midterms by not highlighting widening inequality enough.

"We're scared of our own shadow on taxes and it fucking makes no sense," Biden 2020 campaign pollster John Anzalone told Politico. "People do not begrudge people making a lot of money and getting wealthy.

He went on: "People have a problem and are pissed off about them not paying any taxes. Why, as a party, we don't elevate that in our messaging and contrast messaging is beyond me."

Anzalone argued passing a skinnier Build Back Better plan would help Democrats avoid an electoral wipeout since much of that agenda is centered on cutting childcare and prescription drug costs for families, which remain popular priorities among voters. Democrats are defending razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate — and Anzalone is sounding the alarm about a potential electoral wipeout, particularly for House Democrats.

"It's the worst political environment that I've lived through in 30 years of being a political consultant," he told Politico. He was also emphatic that moderate Democrats fearful of getting hit for backing tax hikes on the wealthy should campaign on them anyway, since Republican attacks are virtually guaranteed regardless of their record.


Polls indicate that voters are very sour on the state of the economy. A recent NBC News poll showed that only 33% of adults approved of Biden's handling of the economy. His overall approval rating slid to 40%, the lowest figure so far in his presidency. A separate Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday indicated Biden's approval rating stood at 33%.

Republicans have largely focused on hammering Democrats for not doing more to curb inflation and bring down rising prices at grocery stores and the gas pump. The breakout of war in Ukraine intensified those inflationary pressures, contributing to a spike in energy prices. As a result, inflation is eating into the pay raises many Americans got in the past year.

GOP leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell haven't charted out in detail what Republicans would do if they retake control of Congress. But McConnell recently suggested a Republican majority would try to tackle inflation, the border and crime without offering specifics.

Democrats are struggling to get a smaller social and climate spending bill over the finish line due to internal splits and overwhelming GOP resistance. Opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia tanked the last House-approved bill, and he hasn't committed to giving a thumbs-up to anything else yet.