Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

In 2014, we'd rather talk about anything else.

It’s election season. So, if you’re running for public office, you’re talking about the economy. That popular political adage still holds true, right?

Nope. That’s wrong, it turns out, in October 2014. According to Kantar Media Ad Intelligence, which tracks political advertising trends, candidates this year are talking about anything but the economy. Writes Alex Roarty in the National Journal:

Congressional candidates this midterm season have avoided using their most important messaging vehicle, television ads, to assess wages, housing prices, or—most of all—middle-class job growth. Except in rare instances, neither party's office-seekers have even tried to articulate their own full-fledged economic agenda.

To that effect, my favorite spot of 2014 comes from a Senate incumbent in Colorado that doesn’t mention anything (much less the economy) in two full minutes of advertising.

But what could be the reason behind this dearth of economic debate? Could be the GOPers might be having some messaging problems, given that the unemployment rate is as low as it has been in six years. And the Democrats, much to their chagrin, might be having trouble making hay out of that data point because all of those new jobs aren’t paying. Roarty figures the takeaway from it all is John Q. Public doesn’t have much in either party to get economic stewardship right:

While polling indicates that people blamed the financial crisis on the GOP, they still hold Democrats accountable for the subsequent haphazard recovery. Indeed, the public has shifted back and forth between the parties, trying to determine which can better manage the economy. …

The distrust of both sides leaves most major candidates in 2014 unable to talk with authority about the economy, which voters still rate as the most important issue in the election. And it explains why most campaigns have moved on to other subjects.

According to our own polling, Americans want an economic agenda that will promote manufacturing job growth. We haven’t gotten a serious one from Washington yet, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting one in the run-up to Election Day in November. So: In the absence of a national discussion on the economy in the next few weeks, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) will be keeping an eye on developments on the campaign trail that could impact U.S. manufacturers and their workers. AAM is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates — our goal is to highlight the discussion taking place (or lack thereof).

Take a look at last week’s Candidate Watch. And stay tuned for another installment in this series on Wednesday.