One in four Americans say inflation is the most important issue for them

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
July 26, 2022, 9:18 PM GMT+0

Inflation is the most important issue for 24% of Americans, more than for any other issue and double the runner-up of jobs and the economy (12%), according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.

While the Economist/YouGov poll asks Americans which issue they see as most important on a weekly basis, this is the first week the poll has included "Inflation / prices" as an option. With one-quarter of Americans choosing it, inevitably the shares choosing most other issues fell from the prior week. Most notably:

  • Jobs and the economy fell to 12% of Americans naming it as the most important issue, from 19% the prior week. Presumably, many who chose it before had been counting inflation and prices as economic issues.
  • Health care fell to 10% from 14%.
  • Taxes and government spending fell to 5% from 8%.

Another indicator of how focused people are on inflation: 43% correctly say that it is currently between 8% and 10% (it was 9.1% in June). Nearly two-thirds (65%) say it is between 6% and 12%.

Like with most questions asked repeatedly to track changes in opinion over time, the question asked in the survey of what issue is the most important to Americans generally stays the same, though occasionally it changes in response to important events. In the past we've added and removed some options — for instance, we no longer ask about the war in Afghanistan — and renamed others.

While this is the first time we're offering inflation and prices as an option for people to name as their most important issue, we've been asking about inflation on prior polls in many other ways, all of which have pointed to its importance to Americans relative to other concerns.

For instance, in the survey from the week before:

  • 55% said "the prices of goods and services you buy" was the best measure of the national economy, while just 13% named "unemployment rate and job reports," the second-most-popular pick.
  • Twice as many Americans named inflation as the best indicator of recession than named the indicator used by economists, that is, whether the economy is growing or shrinking.
  • Registered voters were more likely to say inflation is a very important election issue for them than for any other issue polled.
  • As many Americans said inflation was a very important issue to them overall as named any other issue polled, tied for first with jobs and the economy.

Who we count as Independents

The Economist / YouGov Poll also has started counting political Independents a little differently: Until this month, Independents were considered only the people who responded to "Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a ...?" by choosing "Independent." Now we also include people who select "other" or "not sure." We're now considering anyone who doesn't select either Democrat or Republican to be politically independent, meaning people who self-identify as Independents are joined in our count by people who consider themselves unsure or choose another designation. That reflects that anyone who doesn't identify with either party has something major in common, even if they register that commonality using different words. This also brings the Economist / YouGov Poll more in line with several other YouGov surveys.

Reclassifying Independents makes little practical difference on many questions — 23% of Independents name inflation/prices as their top issue under the current definition of Independents; 26% under the previous one — but does ensure that everyone is included in analyses broken down by political-party affiliation.

– Kathy Frankovic, Linley Sanders, and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on July 16 - 19, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Getty

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