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It's The Economy Stupid! But Don't Forget Democracy!
David Morey -- Dedicated to Helping Companies Win David Morey -- Dedicated to Helping Companies Win
Washington, DC
Monday, October 24, 2022




By Mark Mawrence and David Morey

People misremember James Carville's winning 1992 presidential campaign focus on "It's the Economy Stupid!" The second part of the phrase was: "Don't forget Healthcare!" And three weeks before the US midterm elections, similar strategic wisdom applies: To win, or to battle to a near-tie by historical standards, the Democrats must argue: "It's the Economy Stupid! . . . But Don't Forget Democracy!"

Today, polls show voters are focused more on their own economic challenges than the larger issue of Democracy and the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. A recent Harvard-CAPS-Harris poll finds the number-one issue worrying voters is inflation—whereas the Capitol attack ranked 19th. And a recent New York Times-Siena College survey found only 7 percent of voters say the "state of democracy" is their most pressing issue. 45%, by contrast, cite the economy and inflation as their greatest concern.

We know a losing argument when we see it—and Democrats must win on both the economy and set up their own alternative to the threat to Democracy by Trumpism in 2024. They must follow Tip O'Neil's adage: "All politics is local" and make the state-by-state and district-by-district case that it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are the most competent managers of a deeply hurting American economy.

Put simply, Democrats must make the case and take control of the dialogue on the economy in order to win 2024's even bigger argument about the future of American Democracy. And it is Democrat's case to win for three reasons.

First, there are recent legislative wins and the historical record. Today, inflation is our foremost enemy—for sure. But Joe Biden, from inside the smart political center, has just dragged more legislative wins across the congressional finish line than any president since LBJ: An inflation reduction act, an infrastructure bill, gun control, climate change provisions, high-tech legislation, prescription drug price controls, and a veteran's bill. Moreover, it is Democrats, not Republicans, who hold the best historical record on managing the economy.

Look at the record: Over the last fifty years, Republicans have held the presidency over 28 years, and Democrats for 22 years. During these fifty years, the stock market return is 109% for Republicans vs. 992% for Democrats. Income growth is .6% under Republicans vs. 2.2% for Democrats. GDP is 2.7% for Republicans vs 4.1% for Democrats. And total jobs created is 24 million under Republicans vs. 42 million with Democrats holding the presidency.

Second, inflation today is a global challenge—made worse by Covid-19's painful aftermath and Putin's brutal war in Ukraine. Globally, inflation is between 8 and 14 percent in virtually every industrialized nation on earth. Today, inflation is at 8.2% in the US—but stands at 8.9% in Italy and Spain, 9.9% in the UK, 10% in Germany and the European Union, and 14.5% in the Netherlands.

Third, Democrats have a better alternative. In fact, Republicans not only have no plan to tackle inflation—they also refuse to even hint at what their own policies would be. To be sure, Republicans are the yin to the yang of two political parties too often failing the American political system; both parties, at times, have lacked bold leadership. But today, the Republicans are a party adrift into brainwash land, a party with literally no platform on the economy in 2020, and a Minority Leader when asked what Republican's economic plan is if they regain the majority replied: "That's a good question, and I'll let you know when we take it back."

"I'll let you know" is no plan and it is what Democrats must run against on November 8th. "I'll let you know" is more tax breaks for big corporations. And "I'll let you know" means holding the Democrats hostage next year if they don't cut social security and forcing an artificial debt limit crisis that could damage US-global credibility for years or even decades.

For thirty years, we've been lucky in developing successful closing strategies for national and international campaigns. And our advice to Democrats is to remind themselves within each local context that "It's the Economy Stupid! But Don't Forget Democracy!" Make this race "I'll let you know" vs. a stronger economic record, historically and legislatively, and a markedly better plan for the future.

This is the way the win in 2022 and position for 2024—and to follow the sage warning of Ben Franklin, in 1787, as he exited Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention and a woman reportedly asked him: "Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?" And Franklin replied: " A republic, if you can keep it."

Facing a very tough midterm election, "It's the Economy Stupid! But don't forget Democracy" is the Democrats best chance to keep our republic—and to protect America's future.


Mark Mawrence is a consultant specializing in CSR and a Partner in DMG Global.

David Morey is Chairman of DMG Global, a bestselling author, and has advised 21 winning global presidential campaigns.

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