Home » Inflation concerns persist but voters’ perception of economy is rising, poll finds

Inflation concerns persist but voters’ perception of economy is rising, poll finds

by John Jefferson
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A new poll suggests that public perception of one of voters’ most pressing concerns — and one of Joe Biden’s weakest areas — is improving, just as both he and his likely 2024 rival are pivoting to a general election focus.

Long an issue for Mr Biden, who inherited the post-Covid cleanup economy and has battled surging consumer prices, joblessness and persistent supply-chain issues, voters’ concerns about the US economy was thought to be one of Donald Trump’s greatest advantages coming into the 2024 election.

In a year when both major-party candidates are beset by deep popularity issues and the former president, in particular, is weighed down by distaste for his actions leading up to January 6, a weak US economy was seen as a boon for Republicans in their bid to retake the Senate and White House, while strengthening a House majority.

But a poll published on Monday by the Financial Times in coordination with Michigan’s Ross School of Business suggests that voters are broadly but slowly warming to the economic recovery managed by the incumbent president.

Mr Biden has seen jobless numbers drop while prices on some consumer goods including groceries, energy and housing re stubbornly high over the first three years of his presidency, and now plugs along through his fourth finally seeing some recognition of his administration’s efforts, if the poll is to be believed.

Roughly four in ten registered voters nationally now support Mr Biden’s handling of the economy, a jump of five percentage points from March. It’s a sharp jump that, should it persist in any fashion, could blunt Republicans’ momentum on one of their key issues.

It’s good news for Mr Biden, who has begun hitting the campaign trail in earnest to promote his record, which includes passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and a bipartisan infrastructure agreement. His campaign is also championing Democrats’ support for abortion rights in the face of GOP efforts to restrict the process at both the state level and nationally.

But it’s far from a magic bullet for the president. The incumbent still faces serious concerns about his age and vitality, and discontent on the left over his handling of the war in Gaza. Republicans have also unified around efforts to raise awareness about illegal border crossings, which continued in the tens of thousands through March after efforts to address the issue through legislation failed in Congress.

A bipartisan effort to reach an agreement in the Senate, which produced a bill allowing the president to shut down the asylum process if the rate of illegal crossings grew too high, failed after Donald Trump and House Republicans came out in opposition.

The FT/Michigan Ross poll also showed a jump in voters’ concerns about gas prices, which more than five in ten voters now say is a serious problem affecting their finances. The average price of gas ticked up 1.7 per cent from February to March and currently sits at just less than 20 cents above the March average.

A total of 1,010 registered voters participated in the Michigan-Ross poll across the country between 4-10 April; the survey’s margin of error was 3.1 percentage points. Two polling firms, one Democratic and one Republican, conducted the polling of voters.

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