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A large faction of voters consistently stress that the state of the economy is the most important factor in deciding who they will vote for in presidential elections.

With a presidential election just over the horizon, many voters expect to have a clear picture of the current strength of the economy under President Joe Biden. But this is not the case. Media voices are divided on the economy. Some left-rated voices highlight low employment rates, wage growth, and record stock prices as indicators of an amazing economy. But some right-rated voices highlight still-elevated prices on goods, homes, cars and produce to argue Biden's economic agenda has hurt Americans.

Overall, Americans believe the economy is doing very poorly amid high inflation, even though it appears historically strong on paper.

How is this negative perception impacting Biden's reelection chances? A writer in The Atlantic (Left bias) determined Biden is "losing his reelection campaign" despite "presiding over the strongest economy the United States has ever experienced." Despite pay increases, low unemployment, and cooling inflation, Biden is trailing former President Donald Trump in swing-state polls. The writer concluded that the main economic indicators "fail to account for some cloudier elements," stating, "Americans remain stressed by, and ticked off about, high interest rates and high prices." Pointing to media outlets highlighting negative economic factors, partisan bias influencing perception, and the lingering impact of inflation, the writer concluded, "A strong economy did not save Trump from becoming a one-term president. It might not save Biden either."

A writer in the Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) pushed back on claims that negative media coverage or Americans’ ignorance is slanting economic perceptions, stating, "When prices suddenly jump up by magnitudes entirely outside your experience … and when they show no sign of falling back to familiar levels, you may be inclined to blame a national administration, particularly one that boasted of injecting vast sums into an economy that had high savings rates during the pandemic." The writer concluded, "a spell of persistent inflation leaves them feeling they’re falling behind. No wonder ‘Bidenomics’ is a hard sell."

But the data says inflation is slowing down. So why doesn't consumer sentiment reflect that? Paul Krugman (Left bias) chalked this up to the return of "inflation truthers,” individuals from the great recession who refused to believe good news about the economy. He wrote, "In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed engaged in 'quantitative easing' — loosely speaking, printing a lot of money in an attempt to boost a weak economy — and there were many people insisting that this would lead to runaway inflation. When huge inflation failed to materialize — when theoretical models saying that money-printing wouldn’t be inflationary in an economy with very low interest rates passed the reality test with flying colors — some people refused to accept what was (or actually wasn’t) happening."

But does it matter if the economy looks good on paper if, as a writer in Townhall (Right bias) recently stated, "the vast majority of Americans are at their wits’ end" trying to afford basic necessities? While conceding that "Biden is not solely responsible for the economic difficulties Americans are currently facing," the writer determined Biden's economic policies "have made things worse, not better." The writer concluded, "the Biden administration’s policies have unleashed economic turmoil unexperienced in the United States for decades. With less than six months before the 2024 general election, it is unlikely the economic ship will reverse course anytime soon. I just hope Americans can hold on a little bit longer."

Does economic dissatisfaction predate the Biden administration? A recent article from Newsweek (Center bias) cited Gallup polling data to conclude that Americans by and large "have not been satisfied with the state of the country" in roughly 20 years, during which time the country has faced "back-to-back crises, social convulsions and disasters, both manmade and natural, that put a spotlight on the roles of government and its citizenry — regardless of which party is in power. One political scientist points to the financial crisis of 2008, the rise of social media and the Covid-19 pandemic as the three legs of the stool that make up America's 20-year-long sour mood."

Graph reading "85% of U.S. adults 'at least somewhat support a $12.00 minimum wage.'"

More from AllSides

More from the Right

Were you better off under Trump's economy or Biden's?
Fox News (opinion)

"The last eight years have been a tale of two economies, with President Trump working diligently to build a stronger, more prosperous America, and Biden doing everything in his power to bring the economy crashing down. Under Trump, the American people enjoyed the strongest economy in the world. From 2016 to 2020, household incomes increased, 401(k)s hit record highs, and unemployment hit the lowest rate in half a century – all while inflation remained below the 2% targeted by the Federal Reserve."

More from the Center

Trump vs. Biden: How the Dow’s Performance Compares
Wall Street Journal

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s first foray above 40000, though brief, is the latest sign the economy has shrugged off the threat of recession in the midst of retreating inflation and hopes for lower interest rates. It is one bit of welcome news for President Biden, whose approval—and re-election prospects—are being held down by public dissatisfaction with the economy."

More from the Left

The one number that could decide the fate of Biden and Trump
CNN (opinion)

"The outcome of the presidential election isn’t likely to hinge on abortion, immigration or even climate change. It is likely to depend, instead, on the price of gasoline in the leadup to the vote. The average nationwide price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is currently $3.59 per gallon. This is about halfway between the recent low of less than $2 at the height of the pandemic, when much of the world was sheltering in place, and the high of $5 in 2022 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting sanctions on Russian oil were having their greatest impact."

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