What the state of the U.S. economy means for the midterm elections

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A dollar bill. Illustrated | Getty Images

Concerns about the US economy are mounting as experts warn that prolonged inflation could lead to a recession. The impact of rising costs is hitting many voters on their doorstep, diverting their attention away from other issues as the midterm elections approach. Recent polls show that the tide could turn in Republicans’ favor in the contentious battle for the House of Representatives. Here’s everything you need to know about how the economy is impacting the midterm elections:

What are the economic issues most likely to affect voters?

The latest inflation data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.4 percent in September. Prices rose by 8.2 percent as of September last year The Washington Post. Price hikes had a major impact on household budgets as September’s CPI was mainly impacted by rising rents, groceries and utilities. Prices in these categories have been consistently high in recent months, but were slightly offset by a 4.9 percent drop in gas prices. This reprieve was short as the downtrend in gas prices reverses, per The New York Times. The CPI has retreated from its 9 percent peak in July, but it’s still close to its highest level in 40 years Post.

The latest data suggests the US Federal Reserve is expected to hike rates by a further 0.75 percent in November. The central bank has attempted to bring inflation back under control by raising interest rates five times in the last year, but has had little impact on fighting inflation. If the central bank is forced to keep raising rates with little impact, they risk plunging the country into recession post.

A recent survey of economists conducted by The Wall Street Journal found that 63 percent of experts believe the country will be headed for recession within the next 12 months, up from 49 percent in the July poll.

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How important are the economy and inflation to voters this year?

Several recent polls have shown that the economy and inflation top the list of issues of concern for likely voters ahead of the midterm elections. The two issues are emerging as the dominant concerns of voters as inflation and a looming recession loom over the nation. This change in political sentiment could give Republicans what they need to regain the lead they lost to Democrats after the Supreme Court’s decision to overthrow them Roe V Wadereports CNN.

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In the most recent CBS News/YouGov poll, 65 percent of voters said they felt the economy was getting worse, and 68 percent said the Biden administration could do more to fight inflation. The poll also found that 48 percent thought Democrat policies had made the economy worse. 42 percent believed Republican policies would improve the health of the economy. The CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker poll was conducted with 2,068 registered voters polled between October 12 and October 14, 2022. The error rate is +/- 2.4 percent.

A recently New York Times/Siena College polls also showed that the economy and inflation topped the list of the country’s most important issues, at 26 and 18 percent, respectively. 64 percent of voters surveyed believed the country was moving in the wrong direction. That New York Times/Siena College poll surveyed 792 registered voters via mobile and landline phones Oct. 9-12. The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percentage points for registered voters and +/- 4.1 percentage points for the likely electorate.

Who do voters trust to solve problems with the economy?

Republicans are poised to win over unclaimed voters who have expressed concerns about the economy. That Times/A Siena College poll found that 49 percent of likely voters planned to vote for a Republican candidate for Congress in the midterms, while 45 percent planned to vote for a Democrat. This is a reversal from September’s poll results, in which Democrats had a 1-point lead among likely voters.

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The same poll showed undecided voters leaning toward Republicans, with the most striking difference among independent voters ranging from supporting Democratic candidates by a 14-point lead in September to leaning toward Republicans by an 18-point lead this year passed month. Voters who cited the economy as their top concern favored Republicans by more than 2 to 1 Times.

The results of the latest polls point to another shift in the country’s overall political mood, from a strong pro-Republican bias before abortion rights entered the debate, to a shift in favor of Democrats. Now that momentum has begun to stabilize, allowing Republicans to stage a comeback, reports CNN.

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