That comes as no small blow to CNN, which has given the January 6 committee hearings and investigations tons of coverage. One look at the CNN YouTube page shows all sorts of clips bringing moment-by-moment developments to the J6 story.
Oddly, however, you won’t find this clip on the page, wherein CNN’s data analyst Harry Enten assesses the electoral impact from the House hearings. Our friends at Grabien provide this look at Enten’s conclusions, in which he tells Jake Tapper that plenty of voters are indeed paying attention to the hearings. They’re just not basing their midterm choices on it. “It’s inflation!” Enten declares:
TAPPER: CNN’s Harry Enten joins us now live from the magic wall with a look at how the American people feel about the January 6th hearings. Harry, so are voters paying attention to these hearings? And what are you finding there?
ENTEN: Yes, so you know, look here, following the January 6th hearings very or somewhat closely, what do we see? We see overall, the majority of Americans are, in fact, following these hearings very, or at least somewhat closely. And here’s the more interesting little nugget here.
While Democrats are more likely to be following the hearings closely than Republicans, in fact, the majority of Republicans that 51 percent say that they are, in fact, following the hearings very or somewhat closely. But here’s the big question, is it really changing anybody’s mind? And I think we can get a good idea of it from this question from Quinnipiac, did Trump commit a crime to change the 2020 election results? And we can compare April of 2022 versus now.
Overall, in April of 2022, it was 46 percent. Now, it’s that same 46 percent. Among Democrats, we see that it’s actually dropped two points, although within the margin of error 87 percent back in April of 2022, and 85 percent now. Among Republicans, there’s been perhaps a slight upward movement to 15 percent. But still, clearly, the vast majority of Republicans do not, in fact, believe that Trump committed a crime. And these hearings don’t seem so far to, in fact, change opinions across all Americans of whether Trump committed a crime to change the 2020 election results.
TAPPER: And Harry, we’ve talked before about the poor polling for Democrats heading into this year’s midterm elections. Have these hearings changed that outlook at all?
ENTEN: Not really. No. I mean, look, before the hearings began, you know, they began on June 9th. On June 8th, my average of the polls, the generic ballot had Republicans plus three points. Now, where is it? Republicans plus two points. You could make the argument that maybe there was a slight change, but the fact is, there’s so much news going on, this is not much of a change at all.
And I think there’s a pretty good reason why. Because what is the top issue for Americans at this point, and who is trusted on that? The top issue for Americans at this point is not the January 6th committee hearings. It is not Donald Trump, its inflation according to 33 percent of Americans. That is the top issue.
And who is trusted more on the issue of inflation? The margin right here is absolutely huge. Republicans are trusted over Democrats by 19 points. And that is why at this particular point, Republicans still lead on that generic congressional ballot.
It’s not just that inflation is preoccupying voters, although that’s certainly true. It’s that the midterms are about what’s happening now with the current president, not what happened 18 months ago with his predecessor. Voters held a referendum on Trump in 2020 and booted him from office. This referendum is about Joe Biden and his single-party governance over the last eighteen months. The J6 investigation may interest voters in regard to the 2024 cycle if Trump decides to run, but it’s a non-sequitur to their considerations in 2022 — as Enten’s data clearly shows.
It’s not just Enten’s data, either. The aggregate analysis at FiveThirtyEight shows a steady 2-point plus lead in the generic ballot when anything better than a D+5 signals a good cycle for the GOP:
Note the utter lack of movement over the last five months, let alone the last month or so since the hearings began. There appeared to be more movement in RCP’s aggregation, but that largely came from an outlier NPR/Marist result. It looks like it’s begun to reverse, too:
Was that momentary narrowing about the J6 hearings or about the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe? Your guess is as good as mine, but to Enten’s point, neither will have a lasting impact in this economic environment. American voters have to live every day dealing with 40-year record highs in inflation and crime as well, with no relief in sight under present political leadership. Poll after poll shows inflation, economy, gas prices, and crime taking a higher priority than abortion and especially the J6 probe even in the immediate aftermath of Dobbs and the hearings.
The longer that inflation rages, the more that it will crowd out all of the other issues, especially those with almost no relation to the midterm cycle otherwise. Inflation will continue to grind away at buying power for the middle and working classes on a day-by-day basis over the next few months — and even if we see some relief before November, prices will remain high and wages will take months if not years to catch up.