Impact on livelihoods tops voters’ concerns in US

By HENG WEILI in New York and MAY ZHOU in Houston | Global Chinese Daily | Updated: 2022-11-04 09:51

Polls reflecting economic concerns point to a midterm advantage for the GOP

Teenage voter Oscar Ponteri drops his first ballot with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek at a drop box in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday. MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND/AFP

Polls taken ahead of next week’s midterm US legislative elections consistently show that inflation and the economy are voters’ top concerns.

With the consumer price index hovering around 40-year highs for most of the year, the bite of inflation has been felt by people from all economic backgrounds.

Sixty-four percent of respondents to a poll published Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal said rising inflation is straining their finances, including 36 percent who described the impact as major.

Both figures were the highest in the newspaper’s poll this year. The poll gave Republicans a generic two-point lead in which the 435 House of Representatives seats, 35 U.S. Senate seats and 36 governor’s offices are at stake Tuesday.

“The focus on economic issues, particularly inflation, is helpful for the GOP as it heads into the home stretch,” said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who led the newspaper’s poll with the pollster. Democrat John Anzalone.

Only 19% of respondents said the economy was heading in the right direction, down 11 percentage points from August, while 71% said it was on the wrong track, according to the Journal poll.

The findings come from a survey conducted by the Gen Forward Survey Project at the University of Chicago. The online survey interviewed 2,294 people between the ages of 18 and 40.

Economic growth, income inequality and environment and climate change are tied at 6%.

“Inflation is the most salient issue among young adults — particularly inflation, rather than general economic concerns,” Gen Forward researcher Kumar Ramanathan told CNBC. “More young adults say inflation makes them more likely to support Republicans than Democrats, but the majority, about a third, say it won’t impact their vote.”

In a CNN poll released Wednesday, the economy and inflation were the top issues for likely voters, with 51% citing the two as the key issue in their vote for Congress.

Abortion Divisions

Abortion, the second-tier issue, became more prominent after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a federal right to abortion. It was the top concern of 15% of likely voters in the CNN poll.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its short-term policy rate by 0.75 percentage points to 3.75-4%, its highest level in 15 years. It was the central bank’s sixth rate hike this year – the last four being of the same magnitude as Wednesday’s.

The Fed, however, hinted that the pace of increases could be tempered. The next meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, will take place in December.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that smaller increases “could come as early as” the next meeting or the one after. “No decision has been made,” he said. “It is likely that we will have a discussion on this at the next meeting.”

New language in the FOMC’s latest policy statement took note of the impact the rapid pace of rate hikes has triggered and shows a desire to be at a level for the federal funds rate “sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation at 2% over time”. .

Jon Taylor, chair and professor in the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said the abortion issue may not be big enough to help Democrats in the midterm elections. .

“Parties that control the White House traditionally lose midterm elections — especially congressional seats — because they are seen as a sort of referendum on the current occupier,” Taylor told China Daily. “Unless we miss something really important in the opinion polls, expect to see this trend continue next week, regardless of the abortion issue.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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