Can Hillary win the middle class?

Why are voters so angry?
Why are voters so angry?

Hillary Clinton is about to face arguably her biggest "Super Tuesday" yet.

Clinton is set to give a big economy speech at 11:30am ET Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, a critical swing state.

Her goals: To convince America's middle class that she can run the economy better than Donald Trump and that she cares about them as much as Bernie Sanders.

"She needs to have a more inspiring economic policy," says Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments who sends out daily updates on the campaign.

A good place to start would be for Clinton to talk about how she'll boost American wages.

She should "outline the way she wants to strengthen wages for the middle class. That's at the heart of much of Trump and Sanders support," says Larry Sabato, an expert on U.S. politics who is director of the University of Virginia's Center of Politics.

Related: Hillary Clinton's best economic idea

Clinton needs bolder ideas

The middle class in the United States is earning almost the exact same amount -- about $54,000 -- that they did 20 years ago when Bill Clinton was president. All the presidential candidates have talked about it, but voters want to hear solutions.

So far in the campaign, Clinton has stressed that she would support raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour (it's currently $7.25 nationally) and that she'll give the middle class more tax credits for college costs and health care expenses.

"She has an enormous amount of tax credits. She's got a tax credit for everything. That's not very inspirational. That doesn't get people excited," says Valliere. Like many, he believes she needs to put forward bolder ideas on Tuesday.

Related: The next president will likely face a recession

What she's likely to do Tuesday

Right now, voters say Trump would be the best economist-in-chief by a margin of 53% to 43%, according to a recent Gallup poll. The economy is the top concern for voters. To shift the momentum in her direction and win over the middle class, look for Clinton to discuss these three things in addition to talking about wages:

1. Address Inequality -- Clinton still has work to do to lure Sanders supporters to her. She was heavily criticized for delivering her New York primary victory speech in an Armani jacket that cost over $12,000. She needs to show that she gets it on inequality. Expect at least a line or two in the speech about cracking down on Wall Street and a lot of talk on how she will make college, child care and health care more affordable.

2. Talk Taxes -- Perhaps the easiest way for Clinton to extend the olive branch to independents and the business community is to offer more tax cuts. Trump wants to do a broad tax cut, but there are concerns that the wealthy will benefit the most and that it's such a big cut that it would add too much to the debt. In contrast, Clinton's tax plan focuses mostly on raising taxes on the top 1%.

"The bottom 95% of taxpayers would see little or no change in their taxes," The Tax Policy Center concludes. Clinton has emphasized that she won't raise taxes on families earning under $250,000 a year, but that's not a tax cut. Will she go further?

3. Bash Trump -- Clinton is firing away at Trump now. On Tuesday, she's expected to emphasize how his policies could send the U.S. into a recession. She will try to portray herself as leader who can make level-headed decisions about the economy.

Related: 10 key facts about the U.S. economy

Clinton's task is tricky. The U.S. economy has come a long way from where it was in the Great Recession when President Obama took office. Clinton needs to talk it up and remind people that they are better off, says Sabato of the University of Virginia.

But she also has to acknowledge the frustration that many people feel that they can't get ahead anymore and that the economy is "stuck in a funk," as one economist put it recently.

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