Inflation could be the key issue in these 5 Senate races

Elections 2022

Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman (Associated Press-Matt Rourke/Gene J. Puskar)

(NewsNation) — Inflation is hitting Americans in the pocketbook, and candidates are honing in on that frustration as voters prepare to visit the ballot box.

Last month, the consumer price index jumped 8.2% from the year prior. Although lower gas prices brought overall consumer inflation down, “core” inflation measures, which exclude volatile food and energy costs, are expected to return to a four-decade peak, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Inflation ranks top among voters’ priorities, according to the most recent NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll that showed 93% of registered voters are at least “somewhat concerned.”

Now, just weeks before November’s midterm elections, 45% of voters say inflation is the no. 1 issue that will determine how they vote.

Prior to Thursday’s CPI report, President Joe Biden acknowledged that a “slight recession” is possible, but followed his remark by emphasizing that he doesn’t believe it’s likely.

The economy and high prices may have a strong effect on the balance of power in Congress, notably the Senate, where Decision Desk HQ predicts the Democrats have about a 67% chance of maintaining control — a figure that has shrunk the closer Election Day looms.


Incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has voted for the Biden administration’s major economic initiatives, including the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act and a sweeping bipartisan infrastructure bill.

He also supported suspending the federal gas tax when fuel prices surged to record highs earlier this year.

His Republican challenger and former football player Herschel Walker, however, says gas and energy prices are climbing because of “bad Democratic energy policy decisions.” If elected, he’s promised to make America energy independent.

Walker hasn’t revealed many detailed policy plans, other than saying he will “fight for lower taxes, fewer government regulations and more free-market capitalism.”


Democratic Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman’s economic plans would include producing more goods in America and buying only from companies that make their products in the U.S.

Fetterman also said he would ban Congress from trading stocks, would introduce caps on out-of-pocket health care costs, and supports suspending the federal gas tax to ease the price of gasoline.

He additionally called for lower taxes for working families, adding that, “Wall Street, hedge fund managers, and mega-millionaires” would be made to “pay their fair share.”

Fetterman’s opponent, Republican candidate and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, blames Biden for inflation and the rising cost of basic expenses like groceries.

Opposed to the Inflation Reduction Act, Oz has broadly cited Democratic policies and COVID-19 shutdowns as leading causes of economic and supply chain issues. He’s also accused the current administration of being reluctant to “fully confront China and support energy independence.”


Trump-endorsed Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance has similarly criticized the Biden administration for the state of the nation’s economy.

He’s accused the current administration of “needless spending” and loosely outlined a vision for the nation’s economy that includes bolstering American manufacturing efforts and energy independence.

At a debate Tuesday, Democratic challenger Tim Ryan said “everybody’s to blame” for inflation, the Statehouse News Bureau reported.

“I mean, we’re coming out of a pandemic. It’s a problem,” Ryan said. “The question is, are we going to sit around another 10 years and point fingers? What I’ve been proposing is a significant tax cut for working people and small businesses.”

Ryan and Vance agreed on maintaining China tariffs, according to the Statehouse News Bureau’s report.


Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly recently helped secure $4 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act to help Arizona and the Colorado River basin states battle drought.

He’s also pushed to lower the cost of prescription drugs and introduced legislation to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax.

Kelly’s Republican opponent Blake Masters hasn’t laid out a plan to bring down inflation, but says “Big Government, Big Tech and Big Business” have collectively harmed the economy.

He’s also been vocal about protecting Social Security for older and middle-age workers and creating a private investment option for younger workers, according to Associated Press reports.


Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was among a group of senators who introduced the Inflation Prevention Act (not to be confused with the Inflation Reduction Act), which sought to bar legislation that would increase inflation until the year-over-year rate drops below 4.5%.

Rubio also created the Paycheck Protection Program in an effort to support jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His opponent, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, supported the Inflation Reduction Act, which Rubio opposed. She touted the Act, in part, as a way to ensure that “billionaires and big corporations” are no longer able to get away with not paying their fair share of taxes.”

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