The U.S. economy grew 2.6% in the third quarter. Will it be enough to help struggling consumers and poll-weary Democrats?
As the final days tick by until Election Day, both the Democratic and Republican parties are making their best case to the American people.
The polls, for what they are worth — which hasn’t been much since pollsters lost the landline — seem to indicate a Republican rout of incumbent Democrats and Democratic Party candidates.
Surprisingly enough, some of the races in hottest contention this year are in longtime deep-blue strongholds like New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Many tight races are developing in areas President Joe Biden carried by a firm margin in 2020. Democratic candidates considered safe only a few months ago are in jeopardy.
The reasons are clear, even if polls aren’t to be believed.
“Inflation is driving voters,” is the general consensus. And indeed, inflation is showing up in too many polls and focus groups, constituent calls, social media posts and town hall questions to be mistaken for anything less than the number one concern of the vast majority of voters this Election Day.
“The Media Did Not Trick Voters Into Disliking Inflation,” as Eric Levitz pointed out in The Intelligencer on October 26.
Concerns about inflation and the economy are driving voters…out of their minds with worry.
“Mortgage rates top 7% for the first time since 2002,” wrote Anna Bahney for CNN Business on October 27, 2022. Companies are losing money, with even very wealthy companies like Meta and Target posing huge losses.
“Over the past nearly two years, we have made enormous progress,” President Joe Biden wrote in an op-ed for CNN on October 25, 2022. “My administration, working with Democrats in Congress, is building an economy that grows from the bottom up and middle out.”
“The unemployment rate is 3.5% — a 50 year low,” the President continued. “We’ve created 10 million jobs, including almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs. On my watch, ‘Made in America’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s a reality.”
“We have more work to do,” Biden cautioned. “Inflation — driven by the pandemic and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine — is a global challenge. I know a lot of people have a job and are still struggling to pay for groceries, gas and rent. That’s why I’m so determined to lower costs for families.”
The message from the Biden Administration has also been that many of the measures taken have yet to be fully felt by American consumers.
“A lot of what we’ve done and we’ve passed has not kicked-in yet,” Biden told MSNBC last week. “For example, we have all this money to rebuild the highways, bridges, Internet, etc., but it’s going to take time. It’s not all happening overnight. It’s not like we passed a law and all of a sudden the highways and bridges are all functioning.”
“And it’s not like we’re in a position where we’re saying no senior — which we do — is going to have to pay more than $2,000 a year for their drug costs…it hasn’t kicked in yet,” Mr. Biden said. “It doesn’t kick in until next year.”
Recently, Bloomberg predicted the chances of a U.S. recession in 2023 were 100%, but there was some good news about the economy this week. Biden’s optimistic predictions about 2023 may yet prove true.
“U.S economy grows 2.6% in the third quarter,” reported Market Watch today.
“For months, doomsayers have been arguing that the U.S. economy is in a recession and congressional Republicans have been rooting for a downturn,” said President Biden in a statement. “But today we got further evidence that our economic recovery is continuing to power forward. This is a testament to the resilience of the American people.”
While the strong third quarter growth is a good sign for the U.S. economy, struggling American consumers might not be seeing the thin ray of hope for a while yet.
“Focus on Cost of Living Imperative in Midterm’s Final Days,” instructed David Dayen for American Prospect on October 26. It’s a clarion call now being echoed from every corner of the media marketplace.
Will a relatively strong quarter of growth be enough to help Democrats avert disaster in time for Election Day?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)