Inflation is the election issue named very important by the most Republican voters

Linley SandersData Journalist
July 15, 2022, 2:55 PM GMT+0

Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday showed that inflation remains at a 40-year high. The latest Economist/YouGov poll shows that most Americans are concerned about inflation: 64% call it a “very serious” problem in the United States, virtually unchanged (63%) from when this question was asked in June.

Inflation likely dominates perceptions because of its personal impact. Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) say that changes in the inflation rate have impacted them negatively – including majorities of Democrats (59%), Independents (74%), and Republicans (83%).

The issue of inflation and prices is “very important” to registered voters when looking at November's midterm elections. More than three in five registered voters (63%) call this issue very important, including 58% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans.

But the issues that registered voters who are Democrats are most likely to call “very important” when deciding how to vote in the November elections are civil rights (78%), health care (75%), guns (73%), abortion (71%), and civil liberties (71%) — not inflation. Registered voters who are Republicans are more likely to call inflation very important in deciding their vote. Their top issues for the election are inflation/prices (85%), national security (75%), crime (73%), and jobs and the economy (73%).

About half of Americans (49%) expect an even higher rate of inflation in the next six months. Republicans (65%) are more likely than Democrats (30%) to believe inflation will rise. Americans with a household income under $50,000 (56%) are more likely to expect higher inflation than are households earning between $50,000 to $100,000 (45%) or $100,000 or more (41%).

In a further sign of a negative outlook on the economy, most Americans also continue to see the U.S. as currently in a recession (58% say that this week). This number has remained steady since the first 2022 Economist/YouGov Poll to ask this question, in May. This week’s number is within the margin of error of last week’s poll (57%) as well as when the question was asked in May (55%).

Why do so many Americans believe the country is in a recession? When asked the best indicator of an economic recession, people are twice as likely to say the prices of goods and services you buy (44%) as to say it's whether the economy is shrinking or growing (22%).

Americans are about three times as likely to say the economy is shrinking (49%) as growing (16%). Democrats are divided roughly evenly on how the economy's size is changing: 28% say it’s shrinking, while 26% say it’s growing. Most Republicans say the economy is shrinking (72%), while just 10% say it’s growing. (The country's Gross Domestic Product fell in the first quarter from a year earlier.)

When the economy is troubled, presidents can be blamed – and in the case of inflation, President Joe Biden is seen as having responsibility for it by most Americans who think inflation has risen. Among Americans who say the inflation rate has gone up since January 2021, 73% give Biden a lot of (49%) or some (24%) responsibility.

Presidents do not often get the same level of credit for positive economic news. Just two in five Americans say that unemployment has gone down (38%) since January 2021 — the month when Biden became president. (It has gone down.) Among people who think unemployment has declined, 65% give Biden a lot of (25%) or some (40%) of the responsibility.

About one in three Americans see Biden as having a lot of responsibility for movement of the stock market, and about the same proportion say he has a lot of responsibility for the change in joblessness, with slightly more saying he has a lot of responsibility for inflation. In general, the worse a person sees the situation in each of these three economic areas, the more likely the person is to give Biden the lion’s share of responsibility.

- Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on July 9 - 11, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

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