WASHINGTON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Buoyed by a string of
legislative victories, Democrats and their allies are throwing
money at key congressional races hoping to overcome President
Joe Biden's poor approval ratings, high inflation and historical
precedent in the November midterm elections.
In the coming days, millions of dollars will flow into
congressional races from groups outside the Democratic Party to
tout Biden's $430 billion climate, healthcare and tax bill
called the "Inflation Reduction Act," aides and allies to Biden
Climate, health and pro-Biden groups will target voters in
swing districts with television, radio and internet ads,
rallies, and bus tours. Some will even knock on doors.
Midterms are difficult for the party holding power even in
normal years, but through history inflation has been especially
damaging for incumbents. It hit 40-year highs under Biden and
voters say the economy is their top concern.
Still, Biden advisers are increasingly optimistic voters
will punish Republicans for opposing the inflation bill, which
Biden signed on Tuesday, and for their party's attacks on
"This law that we're about to sign delivers on a promise
that Washington's made for decades to the American people,"
Now that message is going to voters. The Democratic Party
has already spent $535 million in ads for the general election,
while Republicans have spent $423 million, AdImpact research
showed last month. While funding for outside groups is opaque,
top party contributors include several billionaires, such as
hedge fund creator David Shaw, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and
venture capitalist John Doerr, federal filings show.
Outside campaigns will be bolstered by Democratic Party
spending and 35 trips to 23 states by Biden and his Cabinet
through the end of August to tout the bill.
"This is as strong an August environment for an incumbent
president and his party as you can imagine in terms of getting
things done and the momentum shifting," said senior Biden
adviser Steve Ricchetti.
Polling and forecasts are not on their side.
Six in ten voters either have never heard of the latest bill
or know next to nothing about it, according to a Reuters/Ipsos
conducted earlier this month. Only 40% of Americans approve of
Biden's performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll
completed last Tuesday.
All 435 House seats and a third of the 100-member Senate are
up for grabs in November. Both chambers are narrowly controlled
by Democrats, and traditionally midterms favor the party not in
the White House. Most forecasters give Republicans a strong
chance of taking the House and see the Senate as up for grabs.
INFLATION BILL IS NOT OBAMACARE
Republicans say the Democrats' strategy is delusional given
Biden's poll numbers and predictions that the inflation bill
will have only modest short-term impact on prices.
But Democrats say they're not seeing blistering voter
opposition to the inflation bill, compared to Obamacare in 2010,
which ushered in a Republican landslide.
"Every single Democrat who's running for Congress is going
to run ads on this and talk about this," said Anne Shoup, a
spokesperson for Protect Our Care, a healthcare advocacy group
targeting Republicans who oppose the inflation bill.
Building Back Together, a non-profit run by former Biden
campaign advisers, is rolling out a $1 million television,
digital and radio ads plan around the bill that will emphasize
Black and Latino voters in particular, executive director
Danielle Melfi said. The Democratic National Committee is also
focusing an ad campaign on Black, Latino and Asian voters.
The League of Conservation Voters, an environmental
advocacy, launched a $2.2 million advertising campaign to thank
Democratic supporters of the inflation bill; Climate Action
Campaign plans digital ads thanking 24 lawmakers who voted for
League-affiliated organizers will also spend $13 million on
a door-to-door campaign about the bill and how candidates voted
in seven political battleground states. Ads in the coming weeks
cast Republicans who opposed the bill as pro-polluter, said
spokesperson Emily Samsel.
Unrig Our Economy, an outside group focused on populist
economic messaging, is targeting four Republicans who opposed
the bill: Representative David Valadao of California, Ashley
Hinson of Iowa, Don Bacon of Nebraska and Nicole Malliotakis of
Forecaster Cook Political Report earlier this month
downgraded the chances of victory for Bacon and Malliotakis but
the targeted campaigns expressed no concern.
"The only thing that will give Iowa families relief from
Democrat induced runaway inflation, tax increases and back
breaking increases on gas and groceries is a Republican Majority
in Congress," said Sophie Crowell, Hinson's campaign manager.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and