The economy is the number one issue for voters, with three weeks remaining before the November midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.
The high cost of living – the result of rising gas, food and housing prices due to inflation – has consistently been cited as a concern by voters.
But in a New York Times/Siena College poll released on Monday, the country’s struggling economic state is ahead of other problems as Americans prepare to select their new senators and representatives.
In the poll, voters ranked the economy first in their minds at 26%, inflation followed at 18%, then the state of democracy came in at 8%, while abortion and immigration each got 5%.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly received low marks for his handling of the economy, leading many Democrats to fear voters will vent their frustration at the polls.
The poll indicated this could happen: 49% said they would vote for the Republican congressional candidate, compared to the 45% who said they would vote for the Democrat.
In more disturbing news for Democrats, a majority of likely voters also said the country was heading in the wrong direction: 64% against the 24% who said the United States is on the right track.
The party in power tends to lose seats in Congress if a majority says the country is headed in the wrong direction. Democrats are also fighting history, as the president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections.
Biden has downplayed concerns about the economy.
While on a campaign trip in Oregon over the weekend, while eating an ice cream, Biden defended his stewardship of the US economy by saying, “I’m not worried about dollar strength. I worry about the rest of the world. Our economy is so strong.’
Inflation in the United States is falling, but remains high at 8.20%.
Biden insisted it is a global problem.
“Inflation is global. It is worse off than in the United States. So the problem is the lack of economic growth and good policies in other countries that are not so much ours,” he said.
“It’s global inflation. It’s consistent,” Biden also noted.
Republicans are seen as having momentum to take back control of the House of Representatives on Nov. 8, which would put GOP leader Kevin McCarthy in the speaker’s seat.
“I’m looking at the established Democrats now,” McCarthy told PunchBowl News. ‘Any Democratic incumbent who sits on 46’ [percent] or less, they will have a very hard time winning. I think they are in denial.”
Control of the Senate is more competitive as both sides fight hard to send the 50-50 Senate their way.
McCarthy and the Republicans, if they take control of one chamber on Capitol Hill, could stifle Biden’s legislative agenda.
The poll also found that 45% strongly disapproved of Biden’s work as president and 90% of those voters planned to support a Republican running for Congress this fall.
A surprising number come from the New York Times/Siena College poll is the shift among women who call themselves independent voters.
In September, these women favored the Democratic candidate by 14 points. In the new poll, independent women supported the Republican by 18 points.
The turnaround is remarkable given the Democrats’ emphasis on courting female voters, especially by focusing on the abortion issue.
Biden and his party argue that Republicans are rolling back reproductive rights in an effort to rally that voting bloc.
But Monday’s poll shows that the economy remains the top concern of voters. Only 5% said abortion was at the top of their agenda.
The Times/Siena survey of 792 likely voters nationwide was conducted by telephone from October 9 to 12, 2022. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Republicans are seen as having momentum to take back control of the House of Representatives on Nov. 8, which would put GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (above) in the speaker’s seat
During a campaign trip in Oregon last weekend, while eating an ice cream cone, President Joe Biden defended his stewardship of the US economy by saying, “I’m not worried about dollar strength. I worry about the rest of the world. Our economy is strong as hell’
Specifically targeting Republicans on the abortion issue, Biden said, “We’re not going to sit by and let Republicans across the country adopt extreme policies to threaten access to basic health care.”
He has urged women to use their political power to vote against the GOP in the November elections.
First lady Jill Biden also talks about abortion rights. Over the past week, at several events, she described helping a friend recover from an abortion performed before Roe. vs. Wade and criticized “extremist Republicans” for wanting to “bring women back to those days.”
The first lady detailed how she helped a friend recover from the procedure in the 1960s, before an abortion became legal, and she used the story to target Republicans pushing anti-abortion laws.
Biden said her boyfriend, who became pregnant as a teenager in the late 1960s, could not have an abortion unless she underwent a psychiatric evaluation and a doctor deemed her mentally unfit.
The first lady, who was 17 at the time, lived in Pennsylvania where abortion was illegal.
“To terminate the pregnancy, she told me her only recourse was to undergo a psychiatric evaluation that would declare her mentally unfit before the doctor performed the procedure,” she said.
She did not identify the friend.
She described going to see her friend in the hospital and said she “cryed the whole ride home.”
Biden noted that her boyfriend couldn’t go home after the abortion, so Biden’s mother, Bonny Jean Jacobs, allowed the girl to stay with them.
She said she and her late mother never spoke about it again and told no one, including Biden’s father, what had happened.
‘Confidentiality. Shame. Silence. Danger. Even death. That’s what defined that time for so many women,” Biden said.
She also criticized Republicans for pushing state laws that would restrict access to abortion.
“Extremist Republicans are passing state laws that prevent women from getting the health care they need,” she said.