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CNN pundits fret over Democrats skimping economy for ‘threats to democracy’ in midterm message

Some figures among the liberal media are beginning to turn heel and slam Democrats who focused on the state of democracy, rather than economic issues as midterm Election Day looms. 

Over the past several months, segments, panels, and articles have dominated the TV and internet, urging voters that Democrats would help to protect American democracy and abortion rights from Republicans. Yet, poll after poll has shown that the economy, inflation, and crime persist above all other key voting issues.  

Now, some prominent analysts and journalists on CNN are wondering if Democrats’ election season strategy may have been a mistake. 


  • Van Jones Democrats midterm messaging CNN Image 1 of 3

    CNN political commentator Van Jones discusses Democrats’ midterm messaging on Nov. 7, 2022. (CNN)

  • Hilary Rosen Image 2 of 3

    Democrat strategist Hilary Rosen says she’s "not happy" with her party’s messaging ahead of the midterms. (Screenshot/CNN/StateOfTheUnion)

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    President Joe Biden issued a fresh warning about threats to U.S. democracy less than a week before Election Day at a Democratic National Committee event in Washington, D.C, on Nov. 2, 2022. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Monday, former Obama administration official and CNN political commentator Van Jones referred to “preserving democracy” as a sort of “fool’s gold” talking point for the Democratic Party. 

“I think there was this kind of fool’s gold, this idea that, you know the threat to democracy is so severe in the wake of this insurrection, in the wake of these election deniers possibly grabbing control of the government that, that was something that you had to talk about,” Jones said. “But you also have to talk about the economy.”

Jones added that it was a “tragedy” that Democrats did not focus enough attention on the economy, and that the Party missed an opportunity to stoke fear that Republicans would make pocketbook issues worse, with regard to social security and the cost of prescription drugs.

CNN political commentator Hilary Rosen similarly expressed frustration with the Democratic Party, offering a stark prediction for the elections.


“We did not listen to voters in this election, and I think we’re going to have a bad night,” she said.

Rosen noted that while her words likely would not change the direction of Tuesday’s election, she hoped they would inform Democrats heading into future election cycles.

“When people tell you over and over and over again that they care mostly about the economy—listen to them,” she added. “Stop talking about democracy being at stake. Democracy’s at stake because people are fighting so much about what elections mean.” 

CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart took her criticism of the Democratic Party’s message and aimed it directly at President Biden, who last week gave a final address on preserving American democracy ahead of the midterms. 

She said that Biden’s message of “democracy being on the brink” is not something that reaches top of mind for voters, and said that he would have been better served speaking on economic issues, like inflation. 

“Voters are concerned with money in the bank, not democracy on the brink,” Stewart said. 


An Oct. 17 poll from The New York Times revealed that 70% of voters agree that democracy is under threat, but only 7% of them rank the issue as a major concern this election cycle.

A report from the Times, reacting to its own poll, called voters “remarkably apathetic” for breaking from the media’s persistent warnings about dangers to democracy.

In its latest midterm election report, titled, “Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority,” the piece laid out how the poll findings reinforced the idea that the midterm elections will be largely defined by inflation and “other economic woes.”

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