Sometimes you hit the campaign trail and there’s an issue that voters care so much about that its dominance is inevitable. In 2006, opposition to the Iraq war was growing. In 2010, there was a backlash against big government spending and bailouts, along with fears of what Obamacare would look like. This year, the concern about affordability is deep.
That’s not to say that other issues, from abortion to crime to the climate and beyond, don’t matter much to voters, but the anxiety about the high cost of the basics is palpable.
We found this out after traveling to five major states since Labor Day weekend: Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada and Arizona. We covered competitive races and talked to countless voters at booths, gas stations, grocery store parking lots, construction sites, outdoor markets, and more.
“I drive a truck and it doesn’t get very good gas. I actually had to quit my last job because I couldn’t afford to drive all the way,” Amanda Cleaver told us at the Michigan State Fair over Labor Day weekend.
Greg Steyer, sitting with a group of friends at Bud’s restaurant in Defiance, Ohio, also expressed his dismay.
“Why is the price of gas where it is today?” asked Steyer in the second week of September.
“You can’t ignore that problem,” he added.
As Joseph San Clemente loaded his groceries into his car in a Virginia Beach parking lot in late September, he couldn’t beat the prices of what he had just bought.
“Vegetables have increased to 20 to 30%,” he said. “Farm producers don’t carry the things they made last year, because people don’t have money.”
Dave Dent, who runs a construction company in Tucson, Arizona, said in late October that inflation in his line of work is 30%.
And Maria Melgoza, who cleans houses in Las Vegas, told us how difficult it is to pay the neighbors these days.
“Food is high, gas is high, rent is high,” he said in Spanish.
We hear from many frustrated voters, especially among working-class and rural voters, who feel neglected by politicians in Washington.
“I was born in a union house. My dad was a gang member for 30 years, he voted Democrat. But they’re completely out of step with what everyday Americans want,” lamented Jason Fetke in Virginia Beach.
A current union member we met with in Toledo, Ohio, says he will vote Democratic this year, but feels that not enough is being done yet.
“I think there should be a lot more focus on working class people,” Joe Stallbaum said.
“We always seem to fall behind for the high or the low,” he added.
Continue reading here.