We conducted focus groups among suburban NOVA and Richmond Biden voters to
understand why they swung to Youngkin or seriously considered doing so. A few things
stood out to us about these voters, where our national and Virginia problems
compounded each other to swing the state to Republicans:
- Our weak national brand left us vulnerable. Voters couldn’t name anything
that Democrats had done, except a few who said we passed the infrastructure
bill. That bill didn’t overcome their opinions that we have spent the last year
infighting and careening from crisis to crisis.
- Voters are unhappy with the direction of the country and don’t think we get
it. They aren’t hearing solutions from us, they don’t think we’re doing anything to
address the big issues (lack of workers + rising prices), and in general they just
aren’t seeing the smoother ride they thought they’d get after having voted out
- Voters believe the economy is bad, and no amount of stats can change
their mind (at least in the short term). Jobs numbers, wage numbers, and the
number of people we’ve put back to work don’t move them. We should still talk
about these (more the wage and back-to-work numbers), but we should realize
that they will have limited impact when people are seeing help wanted signs all
over main street, restaurant sections closed for lack of workers, rising prices, and
supply disruptions. Even where things are getting better, Biden doesn’t get credit.
- Voters think we are focused on social issues, not the economy. They aren’t
hearing us talk about the economy enough, and the things they are hearing
about our agenda (people mentioned the child tax credit, paid leave, free college)
don’t have to do with getting people back to work or taking on the cost of goods.
That’s deadly in an environment when it’s the top issue.