Dec 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats ditch "Bidenomics" messaging

US President Joe Biden speaks about Bidenomics at CS Wind, the largest wind turbine tower manufacturer in the world

President Biden speaks about Bidenomics at CS Wind in Pueblo, Colo., last week. Photo: Michael Ciaglo via Getty Images

House Democrats have rejected the White House's months-long campaign to sell the term "Bidenomics."

Why it matters: Democrats are going into the 2024 election divided on how to communicate about the economy at a time when most voters are dissatisfied with it.

What's happening: House Democratic leadership stopped pushing the term months ago.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC, two key fundraising arms, are also avoiding it on social media and press releases, as polling indicates the tagline is ineffective.
  • In a meeting this past summer to discuss economic messaging strategy, House Democrats decided to stick with "People Over Politics" rather than "Bidenomics," one senior Democratic leadership aide told Axios.

Zoom in: The "Bidenomics" catchphrase seemed to present a host of issues, according to Democratic sources.

  • The term was seen as tone-deaf to voters still struggling economically and also invoked a president with lackluster polling numbers.
  • One Democratic strategist said the biggest problem wasn't using "Biden," but that the term was too philosophical and required too much explanation.
  • Democrats across the board intend to keep many of the policies behind the "Bidenomics" tagline front and center heading into 2024.

What they're saying: "This week GDP growth was revised upward to 5.2% in the last quarter and this story's economic focus is on how many times the House Dems have uttered a single particular word," Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign's communications director, told Axios in a statement.

How we got here: The White House began touting the catchphrase "Bidenomics" this year in an effort to change the troubling polling on the president's economic record ahead of 2024.

  • Biden was initially ambivalent about the term, then embraced it — but "Bidenomics" has recently disappeared from his prepared speeches, as NBC News reported.
  • The White House and the Biden campaign have continued to use the term, and the president spoke at an event in Colorado this past week with "Bidenomics" signage.

Some Democratic lawmakers have publicly expressed concern about the messaging tactic over the past few months, even as they plan to campaign on economic success.

  • "We have to do a better job framing this not so much for one person — for the office of the presidency — but for the people," Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) told Politico in September.
  • In a major NYT/Siena poll in battleground states last month, voters were far more likely to say they trust former President Trump over Biden on the economy.

By the numbers: The term "Bidenomics" does not appear in any of the DCCC's public press releases nor on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, according to analysis provided by a House Republican strategist and reviewed by Axios.

  • DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) hasn't used the term on her X or Facebook accounts.
  • The term is nowhere to be found in any of the House Majority PAC's public releases and posts except for a single press release on July 31.
  • House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) has avoided "Bidenomics" on his social media and press releases, except sharing one article on Facebook with the term featured in the headline. His team said he has invoked "Bidenomics" during press conferences.
  • Aguilar is quoted in one House Democratic press release using the term: "Call it Bidenomics, call it People Over Politics—just call it effective."

The big picture: It's not the first time there has been distance between the White House and House Democrats on economic messaging, and former President Obama similarly struggled with the issue ahead of 2012.

  • The Biden team is largely dismissive of critics within their own party — a confidence forged by proving such doubters wrong in the past.
  • In the months before the 2022 midterm elections, those critics included some members of Biden's own Cabinet who repeatedly appealed to senior Biden advisers Anita Dunn and Mike Donilon to change the economic messaging, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
  • In response, a WH official framed the conversations as constructive, telling Axios that the cabinet members "wanted to discuss and advise on messaging."
  • Democrats went on to have the best midterms in decades for a first-term president.
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