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You can see that in the supermarket, at the gas station and on the heating bill (luckily not in the liquor store): The prices are getting higher. Since October last year, consumer goods prices have risen 6.2 percent – the largest year-on-year increase since 1990 – according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Wednesday. Prices are rising in almost all categories including gas, food and housing, mainly due to supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Despite mixed media coverage, the prevailing message from officials seems to be “don’t panic”. The Federal Reserve predicts that this period of rising prices will be “temporary” and there are signs that price increases are slowing. Meanwhile, however, Americans are worried about inflation and most blame the Biden administration for it, according to recent polls. That’s why Biden switched gears this week, from celebrating the passage of his bipartisan infrastructure bill to addressing inflation concerns.
If you haven’t noticed any price hikes, you are in the minority. 76 percent of US adults said gasoline prices rose “sharply” and 65 percent said food prices rose “sharply,” according to an Economist / YouGov poll conducted Nov. 6-9. One in four Americans said they were spending more on groceries in October than they did in September, according to a Morning Consult survey conducted October 29 through November 3. And a national poll by Scott Rasmussen, conducted October 11-13, found that 77 percent of registered voters had “recently seen a sharp rise in the cost of items they want to buy.”
Americans also expect prices to continue to rise, especially at the beginning of the Christmas season. In another Morning Consult poll conducted October 29 through November 1, a majority of Americans expected consumer tech, groceries, travel, toys, and jewelry prices to be higher this year than in previous years and planned to offset the surge by chasing deals. As the holidays approached, consumers were most concerned about the cost of meat, produce and dairy products, according to the first Morning Consult survey. Forty-eight percent of Americans were “very concerned” about the cost of meat, 37 percent about products, and 33 percent about dairy products. A large number of consumers (46 percent) said they “often” compare prices in order to reduce their food costs.
Americans are not happy with these price increases. In a Daily Kos / Civiqs poll conducted October 30 through November 2, 78 percent of registered voters said they were dissatisfied with the price of gasoline (only 5 percent were satisfied) and 75 percent said they were dissatisfied with the price of gasoline for consumer goods such as groceries, clothing, and household items. This dissatisfaction with the price of consumer goods was highest among Republicans at 92 percent, compared with 57 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Independents.
Americans are feeling the price increases in their wallets. This Economist / YouGov poll found that 56 percent of Americans said it was at least somewhat difficult to afford gasoline, with 55 percent saying the same thing about groceries and 48 percent about housing costs. A Fox News poll conducted October 16-19 showed that inflation concerns were higher than it had been for the past four months. 87 percent of registered voters said they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about inflation and higher prices.
Increased prices can affect voters’ political views on the economy as a whole, as their effects are immediately felt and contribute to Biden’s negative approval rating. “Inflation has a different psychology than anything else, and it tends to influence people’s view of the economy because they experience it every day, whether it be at the grocery store, at the gas pump, or buying housewares,” John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster said the Los Angeles Times.
Polls measure how voters view inflation as a political issue. A large number of registered voters (40 percent) said the Biden government’s policies were “very responsible” for inflation, and a majority (62 percent) said government policies were at least “somewhat responsible,” according to a poll by Politico / Morning Consult held from October 16th to 18th. In a Harvard / Harris poll October 27-28, 56 percent of registered voters said they do not trust the Biden government’s ability to keep inflation in check, and 53 percent said the same thing about the Biden government’s ability Federal Reserve. A majority (56 percent) said that if Congress passed a $ 1.5 to $ 2 trillion social spending bill (like the one they are currently trying), it would lead to more inflation.
While the public response has not kept pace with expert predictions, its fears should not be brushed aside. Some economists suggest that if inflation fears, if left unchecked, can worsen the situation by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which workers, fearful of rising prices, demand higher wages, the costs of which employers would then cover through price increases, resulting in higher inflation . This happened in the 1970s and resulted in almost double-digit inflation rates. Regardless of how temporary the Fed believes these price hikes will be, Americans are currently concerned.
Other polling bites
- The 2022 midterm elections are a little less than a year away, and an approval from Biden, whose approval rating is low, may not be an attractive option for all candidates. According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports, the most likely voters (51 percent) said they were less likely to vote for a presidential-approved candidate.
- Americans are not happy with the way Biden handled what they consider to be the nation’s most important issue: the economy. According to a recent CNN / SSRS poll, several Americans (36 percent) said the economy was the most important issue in the United States. And a majority (58 percent) said Biden did not pay enough attention to the country’s major problems.
- COVID-19 cases have not gone down in the US, but many Americans are ready to return to pre-COVID-19 life. According to a recent Axios / Ipsos poll, a slim majority of Americans (55 percent) thought that going back to their pre-COVID-19 life is now associated with little or no risk to their health, and 50 percent of them Americans said they felt they were less at risk of contracting COVID-19 now, compared to April 2020.
- Approximately 900,000 children aged 5 to 11 received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine just a week after the vaccine was approved for that age group. Prior to the vaccine’s approval, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in October found that only 27 percent of parents with children ages 5-11 said they would have their children vaccinated “immediately” as soon as they are eligible. This hesitation was in large part due to the long-term effects of the vaccine in children (76 percent of parents surveyed) and that their child could experience serious side effects from the vaccine (71 percent).
- On Monday, the US lifted a travel ban on vaccinated visitors from 33 countries, including Mexico, Canada and the UK. But some international travelers are uncomfortable traveling to the US. A Morning Consult survey found that 60 percent of Canadian adults were uncomfortable planning a trip to the United States, and 41 percent of Mexican adults were uncomfortable. In Europe, 45 percent of adults in the UK, 42 percent in Germany and 36 percent in France found it uncomfortable to plan a trip to the United States
According to FiveThirtyEight’s Presidential Approval Tracker, 42.5 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job as president, while 51.6 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -9.1 points). At this point last week, 42.7 percent were approved and 50.5 percent rejected (a net approval rating of -7.8 points). A month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 44.6 percent and a disapproval rating of 49.2 percent (a net approval rating of -4.6 points).
On our average of the general polls for the general vote, Democrats currently lead Republicans with 1.3 percentage points (42.5 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively). A week ago, the Democrats led the Republicans by 2.3 percentage points (43.4 percent to 41.2 percent). At that time last month, voters preferred the Democrats to the Republicans with 2.9 points (44.4 percent versus 41.6 percent).