Voters pessimistic on economy, inflation as Election Day approaches

Last updated on October 19, 2022

Americans are expressing deep pessimism about the economy and rising inflation, a bad sign for Democrats as they head into the final decisive weeks of the 2022 midterm election campaign.

More than 90 percent of voters are concerned about the U.S. economy and inflation, according to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Of those, 71 percent of voters said they were “very concerned” about inflation, an increase of 5 percentage points since August. Forty-two percent of respondents responded that economic issues, which includes jobs, taxes and unemployment, were their top priority when deciding who to vote for this November.

Seventy percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track, the 38th consecutive week that a majority of people have responded that way. And the generic ballot saw Republicans increase their support to 44 percent while Democrats slipped by 1 percent to 45 percent, making the parties essentially even; the poll had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

President Joe Biden’s approval ratings remained underwater with 54 percent of respondents disapproving of the president, an improvement of 1 percent compared to last week. Forty-four percent of people approved of the president.

But voters’ poor opinion of the president didn’t necessarily affect their level of economic anxiety. A majority of voters both with a favorable and unfavorable view of Biden are concerned about the U.S. economy and inflation. In fact, strong concern over those issues was shared among the majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in the poll.

Party affiliation did matter when it came to ranking the economy a top issue impacting who they’ll vote for this November, with just 31 percent of Democrats saying it was their top issue compared with 52 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Independents.

When it comes to voting this November, more than 80 percent of respondents said that the economy would play a major role in deciding who to vote for. Only 4 percent said it would play no role at all. Three out of every four Democrats and almost 90 percent of Republicans said it would be a major factor in their decision making.

Most voters agreed on several factors causing the United States’ 40-year-high inflation rate. Three-quarters of respondents said corporations’ price gouging, raising prices to unreasonable levels to turn a profit, was responsible for the current high inflation rate. Forty-four percent said corporations were very responsible. The blame was found in a majority of voters across generations, gender, race and party affiliation.

Corporate price gouging was also seen as responsible for causing inflation among a majority of people of different professions, including 78 percent of people who work in the private sector and 76 percent who work for the government.

An additional 63 percent of voters felt that a lack of market competition for large companies was responsible for record inflation and 64 percent of voters blamed the Biden administration’s policies. When it comes to solving economic problems, a plurality of voters said they trust Republicans in Congress more than Democrats to handle them.

On inflation, 46 percent of voters trusted Republicans in Congress compared to 37 percent who preferred Democrats. Forty-three percent of Independents — and even 10 percent of Democrats — also put their trust in Republicans to handle inflation.

Republicans in Congress also won the trust of a plurality of voters in the poll on the economy and jobs, with 46 and 45 percent support respectively. Fourteen percent in each case said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion on which party would be better.

The poll, which surveyed 2,005 registered voters, was conducted Oct. 14-16. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2 percentage points.