Hoping to tap into deep voter anxiety about unemployment and the economy, candidates in both Democratic and Republican parties have launched a wave of new attacks accusing their rivals of helping ship US jobs overseas.
On the campaign trail and in television ads ahead of November 2 elections, dozens of Democrats have charged that Republicans support free-trade deals and tax breaks for corporations that cleared the way for the migration of US jobs to foreign countries.
Republicans have countered with ads in 10 House of Representatives districts accusing Democrats of sponsoring jobs overseas by backing tax breaks for clean energy that mostly went to foreign companies in the $814 billion stimulus bill.
The raging ad war reflects the high stakes for both parties in a campaign dominated by the high unemployment rate. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found voters believe the shift of US jobs to foreign countries was the biggest reason the economy has struggled.
It is a topic that resonates loudly in economically ravaged battleground states like Ohio, where unemployment exceeds the national average and have seen thousands of manufacturing jobs disappear.
“This is the big issue here,” said Anthony Giardini, head of the Lorain Democratic Party and a lawyer who has represented companies and unions on both sides of the outsourcing battle.
Carla Ball, a restaurant worker whose unemployed husband has been working temporary jobs, said she did not blame President Barack Obama for the ailing economy but worried about the future for her four kids.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Wednesday found voters think job creation will be the biggest task for Congress in 2011, and more than half believe a reduction in the national unemployment rate of 9.6 per cent would be the best sign the economy is improving.