The economy is getting better. Why isn’t Biden getting any credit?

Below are five charts on how Americans view Biden’s performance on the economy and the Biden administration’s messaging struggle.

The author(s)
  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Bernard Mendez Data Journalist
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One year after passing the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden spent the last few days traveling across the West touting this legislation focused on improving the economy.

At the same time, new economic numbers continue to paint a promising picture of the economy, with lower overall inflation than last year and historically low unemployment. Yet, despite these legislative wins and promising macroeconomic signs for Biden, many Americans haven’t seen these big-picture successes translate into their everyday lives. In short, many Americans are still struggling; that hurts Biden’s standing with the public.

Below are five charts on how Americans view Biden’s performance on the economy and the Biden administration’s messaging struggle.

  1. Economy, economy, economy. Americans care most about the economy. At the same time, they rate President Biden’s performance on the economy poorly. Biden does perform better on other issues, like COVID-19, though few Americans still care about it. A blatant weakness, more challenges, and no pillar to lean on--this is not the place you want to be in.President Biden still struggles with the economy

     

  2. Improving signs. The latest economic numbers paint a rosier picture. Unemployment sits at historic lows. Even as inflation ticked up slightly in July, it’s cooling--far better than where it was this time last year. Still, prices are higher than they were before the pandemic, and these more optimistic trends aren’t always translating into people’s reality.Inflation hits lows last seen in 2021 as unemployment remains historically low

     

  3. Worse off. Compared to five years ago, most Americans feel the economy is worse. That’s true for Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Few feel they are better off. That’s a bad sign for Biden.Compared to five years ago, most Americans—regardless of partisanship—feel the economy is worse

     

  4. IRA, who? Still, the Biden administration has put out several policies centered on improving the economy and Americans’ material reality within that. Think of all the legislation: the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Most Americans aren’t familiar with any of these, including the IRA, which Biden just hit the road to promote. Even most Democrats have heard little or nothing about it. What are Americans familiar with? The high inflation they’ve been dealing with for over a year.Americans are familiar with inflation but not the policy Biden has championed to fight the issue

     

  5. Support is high. People may not know about all the legislation coming out of the Biden Administration, but they support what’s inside them. Take, for example, a policy like raising federal taxes on corporations and the wealthy from the Inflation Reduction Act: majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents support this. But many are not familiar with this legislation. That’s a problem for the Biden administration.Most Americans support policies embedded in the IRA

     

What does this mean for 2024? That’s the question hanging over the economy, Biden’s policies, and how Americans feel about both.

Right now, a lot depends on how the overall economy improves and whether public opinion, which tends to be a lagging indicator, catches up with where the rosier big-picture economic numbers are. Whether Biden can effectively get his base excited about his legislative wins and vision also is up in the air. We will see.

The author(s)
  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Bernard Mendez Data Journalist

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