https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/campaigns/endangered-house-democrats-failing-to-pinpoint-voters-top-concerns

As polls and focus groups reveal that voters are increasingly citing inflation and crime among their top concerns, some of the most vulnerable House Democrats appear to be prioritizing other issues in the early days of their campaigns.

Focus group results conducted by HIT Strategies, an opinion research firm, and published Tuesday by Politico showed that even young, partisan Democratic voters expressed “a preoccupation with inflation and crime” and frustration at the perception that Democratic lawmakers had done little to fulfill their promises.

The results follow a spate of polls that suggest voters see higher prices and, to a lesser extent, public safety as the most pressing issues heading into what is expected to be a brutal campaign season for Democrats.

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The Virginia gubernatorial results in November and a number of polls conducted since also suggest voters are increasingly concerned about education and their ability to weigh in on what their children learn in the classroom.

But a look through the lists of priorities or top issues on the campaign websites of the House’s most endangered Democrats suggests many may not have yet adjusted to the shifting priorities of their voters.

Many instead touted liberal social issues, climate change, infrastructure, and even COVID-19.

With seven months until the midterm elections and many primary campaigns still underway, most House Democrats have not yet begun delivering the stump speeches and cutting the ads that will define which issues they choose to focus on during the thick of the race.

However, their campaign websites offer a glimpse into which issues they’re currently prioritizing.

Democrats are already facing a widespread perception that, as a party, they have in recent months staked out positions on the wrong side of nearly every issue of consequence to voters.

On crime, they’ve focused on weakening prosecutorial and law enforcement power. On education, they’ve prioritized the demands of teachers unions and school boards over those of parents. On inflation, they’ve sought more taxpayer spending at a time when many voters blame such spending for sparking high prices in the first place. On energy, they’ve focused on the concerns of environmentalists rather than increasing domestic energy production to meet fuel demand.

And few vulnerable House Democrats have so far been willing to challenge the mainstream Democratic agenda in any meaningful way.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat whose district sits along the southern border, is one of the few endangered House Democrats who featured tough-on-crime language prominently on his campaign website.

Facing a primary runoff against far-left immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros, Cuellar warns that his Democratic opponent “would defund the police and border patrol which would wreck our local economy” and “make our communities less safe.”

Cuellar failed to attract more than 50% of the primary vote last month and will square off against Cisneros, who is backed by far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on May 24.

Other Democrats in swing districts don’t list crime or inflation among their top issues, however.

Rep. Cynthia Axne, an endangered Democrat in Iowa whose district includes Des Moines, does not list crime or public safety among the 11 priorities highlighted on her campaign website’s “issues” page, for example.

“Women’s reproductive rights” and “equality for our LGBTQ community” both make the list, however. So, too, do climate change and an immigration reform agenda that includes amnesty for many undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat, also does not list crime or public safety among the 14 issues laid out on her campaign website’s “priorities” page.

While she does cite “investing in education” among her priorities, her campaign does not mention parents’ rights but does focus on teachers and making sure they have “the respect and support they have earned.”

And although Slotkin’s campaign does list “growing economic opportunity” as a priority, that section of the website makes no mention of rising prices and focuses instead on training young people in technical jobs and helping them avoid student debt.

Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat whose district includes the southeastern coast of the state, doesn’t make mention of rising crime rates on her campaign’s “priorities” page, although she does include a section for gun violence in which she advocates for more restrictions on guns.

Luria’s campaign doesn’t mention concerns about rising prices in its “economy” section, only discussing, like other Democrats, the idea of job training and raising the minimum wage.

Maine Rep. Jared Golden, one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House, does not list crime or high prices on his campaign website’s “priorities” page, either.

“Campaign finance reform” is first among his listed priorities, which also include the environment, healthcare, and veterans.

Rep. Susan Wild, a Pennsylvania Democrat whose district was redrawn heading into the midterm elections, does not mention inflation as an issue under the “economic prosperity” section listed on her campaign website’s “issues” page.

Instead, her economic priorities include boosting unions, training workers, spending on infrastructure, and expanding rural broadband.

Wild does not mention crime or public safety as a top issue; however, she does have a “criminal justice” section that highlights, among other aspects of the issue, the need to address “racial bias” in law enforcement.

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She also advocates for restoring voting rights to felons and treating drugs as a public health matter, not a criminal one.

Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Pennsylvania Democrat, also does not list crime or public safety on his campaign website’s “priorities” page.

Cartwright acknowledges on his campaign website’s page only that the costs of “health care, education and child care” have risen, and he holds up infrastructure investments as the solution.

And in the “education” section, he advocates for paying public school teachers higher salaries and renovating school buildings — not for more parental rights.

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