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Fox News Poll: High voter worry on inflation as Biden economy ratings plummet

Here are five takeaways on the mood of the nation from a Fox News survey released Wednesday. 

– Almost 9 in 10 voters worry about inflation, as most report prices are up for everyday items — assuming they’re not out of stock altogether. 

– Half could live on their savings for three months or less, as a growing share fall behind financially.

President Biden’s ratings on the economy are down — dropping 11 points even among Democrats.

– About 6 in 10 disapprove of Democrats and Republicans in Congress

– Concern about political divisions within the country is second only to inflation. 

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Here are the numbers behind those findings:

Seventy-three percent of voters, the highest since May 2020, rate the economy negatively — and nearly three times as many are falling behind as getting ahead financially (39 vs. 14 percent). The 39 percent who are falling behind is up from 27 percent in June. 

In addition, 48 percent believe their savings would last three months or less.  That was 34 percent the last time the question was asked 20 years ago (February 2001).  Over that time, the number with more than a year’s living expenses saved went from 29 percent to 12 percent today.

Among those earning $50,000 or less annually, 48 percent are falling behind financially and 61 percent have three months or less in reserve.

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Overall, majorities of voters report empty store shelves (71 percent) and slower delivery times (55 percent) in the past month, and 83 percent say their grocery costs have increased — including 43 percent who say prices are up “a lot.”

A large 84 percent say rising gas prices are a problem for their family, with 50 percent saying “major” problem. Virtually all, 94 percent, think the increase is a problem for the country’s economy (67 percent say “major” problem). 

That leads to widespread worry about inflation:  87 percent are extremely or very concerned. Other top issues include health care and political divisions within the country (both 76 percent), what’s taught in public schools (73 percent), unemployment (71 percent), the federal deficit (70 percent), migrants at the southern border (69 percent), coronavirus (67 percent), taxes (66 percent), and the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads and bridges (65 percent).

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All that goes a long way toward explaining the sharp decline in Biden’s ratings on the economy.  Last month, he was in positive territory by 1 point (50 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove).  This month, it’s negative by 20 (39-59 percent).  That 21-point shift comes from an 11-point drop in approval among Democrats and a 15-point decline among independents.  An overwhelming majority of Republicans disapproved already.

“Biden’s declining ratings on the economy must be a major concern for the White House,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. “Historically, bad economic news spells trouble for the incumbent party in the midterms.”

The president receives his worst ratings on immigration (34-62 percent) and border security (35-61 percent).  He is also underwater on foreign policy (40-57 percent), taxes (40-56 percent), and national security (44-53 percent).

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By two-to-one, voters want Washington leaders to compromise rather than stand their ground (60-31 percent).  Three-quarters worry about political divisions within the country (76 percent), and they don’t think Biden is helping:  more disapprove (56 percent) than approve (41 percent) of the job he’s doing unifying the country.

His best numbers are on coronavirus, as voters approve by 51-46 percent.  It helps that 77 percent think the virus is at least somewhat under control, an improvement from 63 percent in September.

By 54-43 percent, voters remain supportive of Biden’s vaccine mandate for companies with 100+ employees, but views split on the U.S. House’s $3.5 trillion dollar infrastructure package.  Thirty-eight percent think it will help the economy, while 40 percent say it will hurt.

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Approval of Biden’s overall performance is down 4 points to 46 percent, while 53 percent disapprove.  Last month, it was 50-49 percent.  His highest was 56-43 percent in June 2021.

Since April, he has lost ground among some key constituencies, such as suburban voters (-13 points), Democrats (-9), women (-8), Black voters (-7), and independents (-6).

Vice President Kamala Harris’ job rating is also underwater:  45 percent approve vs. 53 percent disapprove.

Each of the four Washington leaders tested is viewed more negatively than positively.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s -16 net favorability is better than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s -23, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s -18 rating, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s -32.

A big difference in those ratings is how the party faithful view them.  Among Democrats, Schumer (+34) and Pelosi (+47) garner net-positive favorability ratings, while McCarthy (-8) and McConnell (-14) are underwater among Republicans.  Moreover, among Republicans, McConnell’s favorable is down from 54 percent in January 2020 to 37 percent today, and 29 percent are unable to rate McCarthy.

Biden’s net favorability is -10 points, a reversal from his +10 rating in April (around his 100-day mark in office).  Among Democrats, it is +68 now vs. +91 in April.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL POLL RESULTS

Over half disapprove of both Democrats (57 percent) and Republicans (56 percent) in Congress, and two-thirds are dissatisfied or angry about how the federal government is working (64 percent). At the same time, 34 percent feel enthusiastic or satisfied with the government.  That’s the highest in data going back to 2010 — and up from 31 percent in 2019.

Since 2019, the number of Democrats feeling enthusiastic/satisfied is up 47 points and among Republicans, dissatisfaction/anger is up 44 points. 

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Conducted October 16-19, 2021 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,003 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. 

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.

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