Each month brings new 40-year highs in inflation and this year has seen spiking prices at the pump, in the grocery store and in housing — a fact that has not escaped the notice of Republicans hoping to parlay those numbers into election victories in the fall.

One avenue Republicans are taking is advertising: Republican lawmakers, candidates and conservative groups have been hammering Democrats with advertisements over the airwaves and online about inflation.

That Republicans are seizing on the issue comes as no surprise. Senator Rick Scott of Florida last year told The Wall Street Journal that inflation was a “gold mine” for Republicans. The party is blaming the Biden administration and Washington in general, where Democrats control both the House and Senate, for policies they claim have led to soaring costs.  But while their ads take aim at the president and Democrats, they provide few solutions.

Travis Ridout.

“I think the negative messaging is more effective,” said Travis Ridout, a political science professor at Washington State University and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “Democrats could come back and say, ‘But hey, what are their solutions?’ But ultimately most elections are just a referendum on the incumbent or party that’s in power. It’s the job of the party out of power to convince voters they’re doing a bad job.”

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