WASHINGTON (HPD) — More American adults now feel financially vulnerable amid high inflation, posing political risk to President Joe Biden and Democrats with the midterm elections less than a month away.
Some 46% now say their personal financial situation is poor, compared with 37% in March, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. That’s a notable drop at a particularly inopportune time for Biden, given that the percentage of citizens who felt good about her finances had held steady in recent years, even during the pandemic.
And while a majority of Americans see rising prices as beyond Biden’s control, they still generally disapprove of his handling of the economy.
54% of respondents in the most recent survey said their finances are good. That figure was at least 62% during the global recession caused by the pandemic in 2020, and even in late 2021 and early 2022 when prices began to rise, but inflation is raising fears of an economic contraction in the United States. and the rest of the world and, despite job growth, more consumers are feeling the effects.
Overall, views on Biden and the direction of the United States were flat in October after improving somewhat in September. Forty-three percent of those surveyed approve of the way Biden is doing his job, while 25% say the country is headed in the right direction. Biden’s approval rating had fallen to 36% in an HPD-NORC poll in July, and the percentage of people who thought the country was headed in the right direction fell to 14% in June.
The decline among those who say their financial situation is good was particularly sharp among those who earn less than $50,000 a year, of whom just 33% consider their personal finances good compared to 50% in March. 61% of those who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year consider their personal finances to be good, as well as 75% of those who earn more than that, slight decreases compared to previous surveys.
In the most recent poll, 23% rated the national economy as good. That is a similar figure to June, but slightly lower than September, when views on the economy were improving. The decline from September was mostly among Democrats, from 46% to 35%. In September, Democrats seemed more upbeat about the economy than they had earlier in the summer.
Opinions about Biden’s handling of the economy remain dim. Just 36% approve and 63% disapprove, but Americans don’t entirely blame Biden for the rising rate of inflation: 55% say high prices are largely due to factors beyond the president’s control, while 44% do attribute them to Biden’s policies.
There are positives for Biden in the poll: 55% approve of his handling of the pandemic and 63% approve of his handling of federal aid to Florida following the impact of Hurricane Ian two weeks ago, but — on the other hand — just 39% % approve of Biden’s handling of the immigration issue.
The HPD-NORC survey covered 1,121 adults and was conducted between October 6 and 10 using an AmeriSpeak sample, designed to be representative of the entire US population. It has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.8 percentage points.