Inflation Emerges as a Key Concern for Voters, Businesshala Poll Finds

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New Wall Street Journal poll finds majority of voters say inflation is giving them financial stress

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The survey helps explain why voters believe the economy is headed in the wrong direction when it’s creating jobs—albeit at a lower rate than expected last month—and when wages are rising and stock markets have rallied for the year. earned profit during Inflation hit a three-decade high in October, with the consumer price index rising 6.2% in October from a year earlier. It was the fifth consecutive month of inflation above 5%.

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The new Journal poll found that voters are feeling a sense of urgency. When asked about the most important issue for President Biden and Congress to address, nearly one-third cited an economic issue — more than any other topic — with 10% naming inflation. Some 52% said they expected the cost of living to get worse in the next year, while 23% said it would ease.

A poll of 1,500 voters, conducted on November 16-22, found more than 60% to say the economy was headed in the wrong direction, and about the same share reported it as bad or not good today.

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Opinions were more restrained when voters were asked about their personal financial situation: some 31% said they believed it would improve next year, while 24% said it would get worse. Some 38% expected no change.

Inflation fears seem to be weighing heavily on the views of Mr. Biden and his party. Some 44% of voters said they believed Republicans would best control inflation, compared to 26% who said Democrats would best control it. Mr Biden’s job approval rating was 41% in the survey, with 57% disapproving of his job performance.

“Whatever the number of jobs, every day, as they live out their experiences, people are seeing the effects of higher gas prices, higher prices at grocery stores, all those things,” said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican. Said pollster whose firm jointly surveyed Businesshala with the firm of Democratic pollster John Enzalon. “It may not be an existential threat, but they are feeling its effects every day.”

Mr. Anzalon agreed: “Inflation drives perceptions of the economy, because it is something that people deal with every day. It is a daily pain and suffering.”

A majority of voters, about 39%, said they believed the policies of the Biden administration were the main reason for the rising prices. Most Republicans and a majority of independents held that view, while Democrats were more likely to pick up on other proposed explanations: supply-chain problems, slashed demand from the pandemic, and corporations unnecessarily raising prices.

Of those who said that addressing inflation should be Washington’s top priority, 70% said rising gas prices were their biggest concern.

The survey found that two groups are increasingly feeling the brunt of rising prices. Some 67% of voters with a household income of less than $60,000 said they were feeling financial stress, with 42% saying strains were major. Among voters without a four-year college degree, 61% said they felt at least some stress, with 34% saying they had major strains.

In contrast, 48% of households with more than $60,000 and 47% of college graduates cited financial stress of any kind.

The survey is the first under a new polling program launched by the Journal to explore the forces driving American politics. The survey on the political landscape will be conducted by the firms of Mr. Anzalon of ALG Research, and Mr. Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates. In addition, the journal will work with NORC at the University of Chicago, a non-profit research organization, to conduct periodic national surveys on social and cultural issues.

The participants in the survey were drawn from a list of known, registered voters. Half of the respondents were interviewed on their cell phones. Up to a quarter of people were messaged on their cell phones and completed an Internet survey. A quarter of the respondents were interviewed by landline phone. The margin of error for the entire sample was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Aaron Zeitner at [email protected]

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