The poll results painted a generally dismal picture for the Democrats less than two months away from the midterm elections. As the approval rating of President Joe Biden reaches new lows, 74% of Americans now believe that the economy is in bad shape — an increase from 58% in the spring of 2021. Only 35% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents want the commander-in-chief to run for a second term.
The economy and inflation are key issues among voters, with 84% considering the former to be a top factor on their minds. The Republicans lead the Democrats by a 16% margin and a 19% margin with respect to trust on handling the economy and inflation respectively, according to the poll.
Price levels between August 2021 and August 2022 rose 8.3%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marking a slight moderation from an 8.5% year-over-year increase in July and a 9.1% year-over-year increase in June. Nevertheless, month-to-month prices for food, shelter, and medical services ticked upward, while core inflation — a metric that excludes food and energy, which tend to be more volatile — continued to rise.
The Federal Reserve responded last week by increasing the target federal funds rate by 0.75% — a move that triggered a stock market selloff and sent the Dow Jones more than 1,500 points lower than the level seen on the day of Biden’s inauguration.
A rapid increase in energy prices has fueled much of the inflation observed over the past two years. Indeed, Biden has advanced renewable energy policies while leasing less federal land for oil drilling since the conclusion of World War II and nixing expansions to the Keystone XL pipeline project at the beginning of his tenure.
The national average price of gasoline was $2.38 per gallon when Biden assumed office and increased to $3.53 per gallon by the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After surpassing $5.00 per gallon in early June, prices have subsided to $3.73 per gallon as of Monday, according to data from AAA.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — broadly considered one of the largest conservative political victories in more than a generation — many Democratic operatives hope that abortion will drive high turnout among left-leaning voters. However, abortion trails economic concerns in the poll, with only 62% of respondents calling abortion a top issue — although respondents prefer the Democrats more than Republicans on the matter by a margin of 20%.
Among second-order issues, voters favor Democrats on education and climate change respectively by 6% and 23%. On the issue of crime, Republicans boast a 14% lead — including a 34% lead among independents. Twelve of the major American cities which set new homicide records last year were run by Democrats.
In more than 100 polls from ABC News and The Washington Post since 1982, Americans have typically favored Democrats over Republicans on managing “the main problems the country faces in the next few years” by a 5% margin. In the most recent poll, however, the two major parties were evenly split.