Inflation figures on Thursday showed that consumer prices rose faster-than-expected in September and the inflation rate remained near 40-year highs, likely cementing voters’ concerns about the state of the economy when they head to the polls in November walk.
It was the last consumer inflation report voters will see before they vote on November 8, and election observers said inflation is likely to be a major issue for voters, even as other issues such as abortion and democracy surround theirs compete for attention.
“It’s the kind of thing that affects everyone at every level of our social and economic status,” Matt Germer, a resident elections fellow at the libertarian R Street Institute, told Fox News Digital.
“We all buy groceries, we buy gas, we pay our electricity bills. And when these increase month after month, it puts pressure on budgets. And that’s what motivates people in November.”
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The Labor Department said on Thursday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of basic necessities including petrol, groceries and rent, rose 0.4% in September from the previous month. Prices rose 8.2% year-on-year.
Those figures both came in above the 8.1% forecast by Refinitiv economists and the monthly increase of 0.2%. In an even more worrying development that suggests underlying inflationary pressures in the economy remain strong, core prices, which exclude the more volatile food and energy gauges, rose 0.6% mom in September. Since the same time last year, core prices have risen 6.6%, the fastest since 1982.
Republicans have been attacking Democrats on this issue for the last year and seem poised to keep pounding their opponents on this issue until Election Day.
“Every American is grappling with the runaway price hikes caused by reckless Democrat spending. That’s why poll after poll shows that inflation is the #1 problem heading into the midterm.” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg told Fox News Digital.
Democrats argue they have postponed key inflation-lowering legislation, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation-Reducing Act, though Republicans dispute claims that it will actually lower inflation.
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“The only party with a real economic plan is the Democratic Party,” Tommy Garcia, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Fox News Digital. “We will spend each remaining day of this campaign reminding voters that, despite the Republican handicap, Democrats have taken bold action to bring down costs, get millions of Americans to work, and protect Americans’ reproductive freedoms.” .”
Inflation remains high on voters’ minds, but other issues that may be more favorable to Democrats are registering in the latest polls.
In a Fox News poll conducted in Arizona last month, inflation tied at 17% for the third most important issue for voters, abortion. Two issues ranked first at 18% – border security and the preservation of American democracy.
A Fox News poll in Wisconsin found that inflation, at 20%, was the second most important issue among voters in that state. The preservation of American democracy came first with 24%. Abortion was 16%.
AFTER A HOTTER THAN EXPECTED CPI REPORT IN SEPTEMBER, GOP LEGISLATORS FORECAST AN EVEN BIGGER TURNOUT IN NOVEMBER
In Pennsylvania, inflation was set at 21% along with the preservation of American democracy as the top issue. Abortion registered at 15%.
But Germer says when voters go to the polls, inflation will likely be the key issue affecting their voting.
“For months the Democrats have been trying to make abortion a campaign issue. And there are definitely some people out there where that’s really the motivating theme for them. But that’s not most people,” said Germer.
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“I think elections are important. I think there are some good ideas for reforms,” added Germer. “That is very important to me. But this topic does not drive people. It’s inflation.”
Megan Henney of FOX Business contributed to this report.