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The Inflation Reduction Election

Inflation is hands down the most important issue on the minds of Americans on the eve of the midterm elections.

An Economist/YouGov poll taken of 1,500 American adults in the first week of November found that 68 percent say that they will be thinking about inflation “a lot” when casting a vote in this year’s election. That’s a higher share than any other issue—from the border, to guns, to abortion—save for the economy, which scores 73 percent. When asked what the single most important issue facing the country is right now, 27 percent say inflation, followed by 10 percent each for healthcare and the economy/jobs.

The Biden administration has struggled to present a palatable program for fighting inflation. There was the infamous Inflation Reduction Act, which every reputable economist agreed would do little or nothing to reduce inflation. According to the Economist/YouGov poll, just 32 percent of Americans say they approve of President Biden’s handling of inflation. Fifty-four percent say they disapprove of Biden on inflation, with 40 percent saying they strongly disapprove.

One thing handicapping the Biden administration is that the left does not take the inflation problem seriously. Just 15 percent of Biden voters say inflation is the top issue. Among self-described liberals, just nine percent say inflation is the top issue. Among Democrats, inflation is the number one issue for just 18 percent. Compare that with 26 percent of moderates and 28 percent of independent voters.

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Similarly, the left thinks Biden is doing a great job on inflation. Job approval on the issue among Biden voters is a sky high 65 percent. Among liberals and Democrats, it’s 63 percent. Among independents, however, Biden’s job approval on inflation is just 21 percent. Among self-described moderates, it’s 40 percent.

The racial politics of inflation is disconcerting for Democrats. Seventy-one percent of black Americans say they will be thinking a lot about inflation when they vote, with 16 percent strongly approving of Biden’s handling of the issue and 31 percent somewhat approving. Thirty-two percent of black Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of inflation. Among Hispanics, 62 percent say they will be thinking about inflation a lot, with 46 percent saying they disapprove of Biden on the issue. Thirty percent disapprove strongly. Just thirty-eight percent approve. Among whites, 69 percent say they will be thinking about inflation a lot, 61 percent disapprove of Biden on inflation, and just 29 percent approve.

We will likely know who will control the House and the Senate by the time the Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index (CPI) for inflation. A month ago, the CPI showed consumer prices were up 8.3 percent from a year earlier. Core inflation, which excludes energy and good prices, was up 6.6 percent, the largest annual increase since 1982. Economists are forecasting the year-over-year headline number will fall to eight percent but will remain at 6.6 percent for core inflation. The consensus, however, has consistently underestimated inflation, so an upside surprise seems likely.

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Americans cannot simply vote inflation away. But solid majorities for the Republicans in the House and Senate could provide some relief. On the supply side, a GOP Senate majority could block climate activist appointments that are playing a role in discouraging domestic fossil fuel production. On the demand side, GOP majorities will be able to prevent the kind of overspending that got us into this mess.

Story cited here.

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