A new survey released Wednesday shows that Democrats are losing electoral support among recipients of the expanded child tax credit, a monthly program that lapsed at the end of December after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin opposed an extension.
Conducted by Morning Consult, the poll shows that Republicans now hold a slight lead among voters who received the expanded benefit, even though GOP lawmakers unanimously opposed enacting the program last year.
"Among parents or guardians with at least one child under 18 in the household who received the expanded child tax credit payments, 46% said they are most likely to vote for a Republican congressional candidate this year while 43% said they're inclined to back the Democratic candidate," Morning Consult's Eli Yokley wrote in a summary of the findings.
Yokley added that the "narrow GOP advantage among this group stands in contrast with Democrats' lead of 12 percentage points in late December, before the benefit expired." In the several months since the boosted CTC lapsed, the survey shows, Democrats' suffered a 15-point swing to Republicans among recipients of the benefit.
"Among all voters," Yokley noted, "the latest survey found Democrats and Republicans tied at 43% on the generic congressional ballot."
With federal data showing that tens of millions of U.S. families received checks under the expanded CTC last year, the electoral implications of the survey could be significant.
Commentators were quick to point fingers at Manchin and other right-wing Democrats in response to the polling, which appears to validate progressives' vocal warnings that the majority party could face electoral disaster in the 2022 midterms if they fail to reinstate the enhanced CTC.
In recent weeks, there has been no discernible momentum on Capitol Hill toward a deal to revive the benefit, despite evidence that its expiration is driving a major surge in child poverty. More than 70% of boosted CTC recipients said the benefit's end had at least a "minor" impact on their financial security, according to the Morning Consult survey.
"This [is] beyond infuriating both substantively and politically," MSNBC's Chris Hayes tweeted in response to the new poll, "and it really is the work of Joe Manchin basically single-handedly."
Mike Casca, communications director for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blamed right-wing Democrats more broadly, castigating their "political strategy of just passing an infrastructure bill and leaving Build Back Better on the side of the road."
The version of the Build Back Better Act that passed the House in November would have extended the enhanced CTC for another year. Manchin, a necessary vote in the evenly divided Senate, opposed a straightforward extension of the benefit, arguing it should have some form of work requirement as well as additional means testing.
The West Virginia Democrat also reportedly deployed insidious talking points against the program behind closed doors, claiming that some parents who received the benefit would waste the money on drugs.
"People recognize that poverty is a policy choice—one that Joe Manchin is making for millions of working families," Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y. tweeted Wednesday. "This isn't just bad policy. It's bad politics. If Democrats lose ground in the midterms, people like Manchin will be to blame."