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Democratic, Republican strategists agree economy will trounce guns, abortion as ‘number one issue’ in midterms

Political strategists from both sides of the aisle are sounding off about what issues they think voters will care most about as they head to the polls for this year’s midterm elections.

A number of those strategists spoke with Fox News Digital to give their predictions about which direction voters might swing in an election cycle that historically sees the party not in power, the Republicans in this case, make significant gains in Congress and other races.

Despite differences in opinion as to how the hot-button issues of abortion and gun control would sway voters, the one thing they all agreed on was that the economic challenges plaguing the country would take center stage when it came to which party Americans would ultimately support.

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Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville poured water on the idea that concern over guns would make a significant impact in the elections and pointed to the country’s economic woes as the main indicator for how the midterms could go.

“Historically it hasn’t been a dominant issue,” he said, referencing the impact guns could have on election results, but noted it could have a specific effect on some Democratic voters concerned about other “cultural” issues like the environment and abortion.

Carville admitted that the outlook for Democrats in the midterms was “not going in a very good direction,” but that they could potentially “cut their losses short” if voters did decide to turn out over fears that a Supreme court decision ending Roe v. Wade would lead to future decisions they might oppose.

Earlier in the spring, voters’ concerns centered largely on the Biden administration’s handling of the numerous economic challenges facing Americans, including a near 40-year-high inflation rate and record-high gas prices. However, the discussion on the political landscape surrounding the midterms was upended in May with the leaking of a Supreme Court draft memo suggesting the nation’s highest court might be set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

The leaked draft memo was followed by the shooting deaths of 10 people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, as well as the shooting last week at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Pro-life demonstrators protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, May 16, 2022, in Washington.

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Each of those events sparked intense political rhetoric from Democrats over future access to abortions, as well as potential gun control legislation, that began making its way into conversations surrounding the elections.

Carville ultimately predicted Democrats’ performance would depend on the economy, specifically pointing to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and income growth.

He argued “Democrats might do better” if those two indicators improved, but that for now it was “like watching two horses race back and forth.”

“The big problem for this White House… and the Democratic Party, is they’ve created so many other problems that are competing with abortion or guns among voters, and it’s going to be hard to put those aside,” said former Trump administration adviser Kellyanne Conway, specifically mentioning high gas prices, supply chain issues, and the shortage of baby formula affecting families with newborns.

Conway argued that Democrats were trying to capitalize on issues like abortions and guns, two topics she discussed at length in her new memoir, “Here’s the Deal,” but that they were “competing with themselves for voters” because of their handling of the economic challenges affecting Americans.

She added that Democrats were making “significant miscalculations” by thinking that voters only cared about certain issues, but noted that the recent shooting tragedies and concern over Roe v. Wade could still drive more people to the polls.

People use voting machines to fill out their ballots in the Georgia primary at the Metropolitan Library on May 24, 2022, in Atlanta.

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Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Kevin Walling talked about the importance of issues like guns and abortion, but repeated the same argument made by Carville and Conway that voters’ intentions would come down to the “bread and butter issues.”

“It’s still going to be inflation as the core focus, I think, of voters going to the polls,” he said.

Walling stated that Roe v. Wade and guns could come into play in some races across the country where those issues stand out specifically for certain constituents, but that “it really is going to be the economy.”

He added that “the million-dollar question” was which party would come out on top in November, but that he was “bullish” about Democrats’ chances despite their economic challenges.

President Biden clears his throat as he announces new steps requiring government to buy more made-in-America goods on March 4, 2022. 

Voters’ concerns about the economy have also been evident when it comes to President Biden’s approval rating.

According to a poll published last month by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research, only 18% of respondents said Biden’s policies had helped more than they had hurt the economy, while 51% said his policies had hurt more than they had helped.

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