WASHINGTON (AP) — A majority of Americans say they don’t blame President Joe Biden for high gas prices, but give low marks to his economic leadership amid fears of inflation and deep pessimism about economic conditions.
About 7 in 10 Americans say the country’s economy is in bad shape and nearly two-thirds disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Moreover, Americans are more likely to say that his policies have hurt the economy than helped it.
Yet less than half say soaring gas prices are Biden’s fault, reflecting how the country is dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and rising oil costs resulting.
Polls hint at a paradox in which the public sees Biden as in power without necessarily being in control. His hopes for a lasting economic revival have faded as Americans face higher food and energy costs. And the promise of a country no longer in the grip of the pandemic has been supplanted by the uncertainty of war in Europe.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Adam Newago, 53, a truck driver from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He sees inflation as spiraling outward with higher fuel prices driving up shipping costs and ultimately raising prices across the economy.
Newago said he reluctantly voted for President Donald Trump in 2020, while his wife voted for Biden. He believes that inflation at its highest level in 40 years and the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan have led to a “mess”.
Overall, 65% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the national economy, including 96% of Republicans and 36% of Democrats. The overall share of disapproving respondents is up from 57% in December 2021 and 47% last July.
Gasoline prices outpace other types of inflation when it comes to ordinary Americans’ worries about price increases affecting their bottom line. A whopping 68% said they were very concerned about gas prices, while 59% expressed the same level of concern about rising grocery prices.
Gas prices were high before Putin started gathering forces on the Ukrainian border, but have risen since the war began without producing a ton of extra oil to put on the market.
Tammy Baca, 52, who works in education in Fort Worth, Texas, said pump prices are a function of geopolitics.
“You’re going to have to suffer, you know? said Baca, a Democrat. “It’s almost as if we were helping the war effort, without even being at war.”
Many Americans agree, with 55% saying that effectively sanctioning Russia is a higher priority for the United States than limiting damage to the American economy.
Housing is the dominant expense in the government’s inflation measure, but less than half of Americans – 40% – say they are very concerned about higher than usual housing costs affecting their household finances. 24% are somewhat worried.
Fifty-three percent of Americans also say they are very concerned about rising prices for other goods and services.
Overall, Americans are more likely to say higher than usual gas prices are more due to factors beyond Biden’s control than because of Biden’s policies, 55% to 44%.
Still, more believe Biden’s policies are hurting the economy than helping it, 48% to 24%. Another 28% say they haven’t made much difference. The rejection comes after Biden spearheaded a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and a $1 trillion infrastructure package through Congress, though his agenda on economic equity and l clean energy was blocked in Congress last December.
For Jennifer Smith, the relief program was a financial lifeline. The 50-year-old lives with a disability and lives with her daughter in Zanesville, Ohio. Smith voted for Trump in 2020, but she didn’t like the January 6, 2020 assault on the US Capitol. She not only received a direct payment from the government, but $250 a month under the expanded Child Tax Credit – both of which disappeared as inflation remained.
“I know it sounds crazy, but I’m thrilled to be able to pay bills,” Smith said. “With the current situation, I cannot without borrowing, rob Peter to pay Paul.”
Eighty-eight percent of Democrats say high gas prices are beyond Biden’s control, while 79% of Republicans specifically blame his policies, which many said in follow-up interviews limiting production. energy in the United States. Most Republicans say Biden’s policies are hurting the economy, but among Democrats, 45% say they help and 39% say they don’t make much of a difference.
The poll suggests that Democratic support for Biden’s economic leadership is decidedly lukewarm, especially among those under 45. That’s a significant difference from the loyalty the GOP has expressed for Trump — who in March 2018 enjoyed 84% approval on the economy from fellow Republicans. .
In another sign of how partisanship shapes views on the economy and inflation, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they are very concerned about the impact on their households of rising prices gasoline, groceries, housing and other goods and services. .
Overall, 69% of Americans say the country’s economy is in bad shape, compared to 31% who say it is good. The share saying the economy is bad rose slightly from 64% in December. Yet 63% rate their personal financial situation as good, a number that has remained remarkably stable since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for Biden, his supporters say he has been held back by Congress and the challenges created by the disruptions and crises that are part of the US presidency.
Mary Payne, 75, a California nurse, said she wouldn’t say Biden’s performance was “great”, although it was “good” and “probably fair”. She said she opposed Trump in 2020 and viewed Republicans right now as filibusters.
“I don’t know how many roadblocks are put up for him to do what he wants to do,” Payne said. “I think the heart is in it. I think he cares.
Associated Press polling reporter Hannah Fingerhut contributed.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,082 adults was conducted March 17-21 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.
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