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MYRA MILLER: Biden Has An Uphill Climb To Convince Voters Inflation Has Improved

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Myra Miller Myra Miller is Co-Founder of the Winston Group. She has worked with House and Senate Republican Leadership and Conferences for over a decade on strategic planning, communications and policy issues.
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The Biden campaign has an uphill climb to convince voters that inflation has significantly improved. Year-over-year inflation has moderated from its peak in 2022 but remains over 3%, with the cumulative rate of inflation since the president took office being 17.9% based on the most recent Consumer Price Index report.

On key household expenses, the cumulative inflation rate is even higher than the overall rate.

Food costs have increased 20.8% since the start of the Biden presidency. Gas is up 33.1% and electricity 28.6%. Yet the White House and media are frustrated that voters don’t buy their arguments that inflation is significantly better.

Since the most recent inflation report showing inflation still over 3%, our numbers for Winning The Issues (February 24-25, 1,000 registered voters) show the Biden campaign isn’t having much success in convincing voters the economic situation is improving. Our survey shows his handling of the economy is underwater at 35%-59% approve-disapprove, having been at 37%-55% in December.

Views on inflation also haven’t shown any signs of improvement. A majority of the country (54%) sees the inflation situation getting worse rather than better (21%) or not changing (23%). This outlook is virtually unchanged since December (53% worse, 24% better, 20% not changing).

One of the pillars of the president’s case has been that the economy was in freefall before he came into office, and that his policies have saved the economy. We are likely to hear this in his State of the Union address. However, voters do not believe the statement: The economy was in freefall prior to President Biden taking office (33%-52% believe-do not believe). Among independents, only 27% believe that argument (27%-56).

Looking forward to the presidential race, many Democrats believe they don’t have to win on the economy but fight to a draw, hoping to convince voters that Biden has made progress with more work to be done. At this point, only 35% of the electorate believes the statement: President Biden has made progress on the economy (35%-56% believe-do not believe). This isn’t to say the economy isn’t improving, nor that voter attitudes can’t be moved. But these results indicate that the Biden campaign faces a difficult challenge to move voter perceptions. So far, they have not found ways to move the president’s numbers in his favor.

Despite what is coming from financial news and government sources, voters have their own method of determining how inflation is doing. In the survey, we asked voters what mattered more in determining how inflation is doing. Only 13% of the electorate said they determined the state of inflation by the Consumer Price Index, official government statistics and economic news, while an overwhelming majority — 82% — based their determination on the prices of items they regularly buy, such as groceries or gas.

This outlook transcends party affiliation, with Republicans (8%-89%), independents (11%-84%) and Democrats (20%-74%) saying this is how they gauge inflation. This does not mean voters aren’t taking official statistics and news into consideration, but their determinations about how inflation is doing are more heavily influenced by what they pay in grocery stores and gas stations each week.

Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, “I think most Americans know that prices are not likely to fall.” Until there is some relief on high prices of household items, it will be difficult for the Biden administration to change minds. They should realize this is the standard against which their handling of inflation is being measured.

Myra Miller is Co-Founder of the Winston Group. She has worked with House and Senate Republican Leadership and Conferences for over a decade on strategic planning, communications and policy issues.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do no reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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