Economic Anxieties Spell Trouble for President Biden’s Reelection Bid

October 20, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Arizona | Cost of Living | Democratic Party | Donald Trump | Economic Policy | Employment | Florida | Georgia | Joe Biden | Michigan | North Carolina | Pennsylvannia | Republican Party | Swing States | The Economy | US Elections | US Politics | US Presidential Election 2020 | US Public Figures

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Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly inflation report, showing consumer price index inflation had risen 0.4% in September to an annual rate of 3.7%, defying analysts’ expectations that inflation would fall.

Given the stubbornly high rate of inflation, and the continuing resilience of the US jobs market emphasized in better than expected employment figures in September, analysts now predict the Federal Reserve will maintain its current interest rate policy. As it stands, the Federal Reserve’s rate target at 5.25%-5.5% is at its highest level in more than two decades.

High inflation and interest rates have created anxiety for many voters over the cost of living and the general health of the economy. For President Joe Biden, these voter concerns have serious political ramifications as he attempts to build a positive economic record to boost his bid for reelection next year.

A recent poll of six key swing states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania), conducted by Redfield and Wilton Strategies in partnership with The Telegraph, paints a grim picture for the Biden Administration. 

By large margins, voters in these crucial electoral battlegrounds disapprove of the Administration’s economic performance, remain extremely anxious about the cost of living, and feel the recent good jobs news does not accurately reflect what is going on in the economy.

Perhaps most damagingly for the President (and his hopes for reelection), voters in all six states believe Donald Trump is better placed than the current President to get the economy going again.

At present, the Biden Administrations holds negative net approval ratings from voters in all six states for its handling of the economy. The Administration’s approval ratings range from a high of -3% in Georgia to a low of -16% in Arizona.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the US economy added 336,000 new jobs in September (defying expectations of a hiring slowdown), between 41% and 49% of those polled in all six states say they do not feel the figures in the recent jobs report accurately reflect what is going on in the US economy, while between 36% and 38% said they thought they did.

Voters’ readiness to accept these numbers as reflecting the truth about the American economy vary according to their 2020 vote. While majorities of Trump 2020 voters in every state say these numbers do not accurately reflect what is going on in the US economy, majorities of Biden 2020 voters say that they do.

This skepticism about official economic statistics may be rooted in many voters’ own difficult economic circumstances at present. 50% or more of voters in all six states say their financial situation has worsened in the past year, while fewer than 20% of voters in five states (and only 21% in Georgia) say their financial situation has improved over the past twelve months.

Concerns about the cost of living remain paramount for many voters. Pluralities in five of the six states say they are anxious about their ability to make ends meet and cover the costs of living (housing, food, clothing, etc.).

Georgia is an exception, with 42% of voters in the state confident in their ability to make ends meet, against 33% who are anxious.

Looking at the year ahead, a plurality of voters in four states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) expect their financial situation to worsen in the next twelve months, while pluralities of voters in Georgia and North Carolina expect their situation to improve. 

These sentiments are crucial as economic concerns will be at the forefront of voters’ minds as they think about how they will vote in next year’s Presidential Election.

At present, pluralities of voters in all six states name the economy as the single most important issue in determining how they will vote in the Presidential Election, with more than four times as many voters in Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania picking the economy over the next most commonly selected issue.

In addition, more than two-thirds of voters in each of the states polled say the cost of living will be ‘extremely’ important in determining how they will vote in next year’s election.

A majority of voters in Florida (53%), and pluralities in every other state, identify Trump more than Biden with the characteristic ‘can get the economy going again,’ while only between 32% and 37% identify Biden with this characteristic over Trump.

Even as the Administration has continued to tout positive headline economic numbers, senior Democrats have warned the White House that its economic messaging is not breaking through. While the overall picture may be improving, too few Americans say they are currently feeling the benefits of ‘Bidenomics.’

As it stands at present, with the economy likely to be the decisive issue in the 2024 Election, voters are clearly not sold on the Biden economy.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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