Biden stumps on job growth, as voters dread inflation

Nov 4, 2022, 9:13 AM | Updated: 9:18 pm
President Joe Biden smiles as he walks onto stage after being introduced by Taryne Haskamp to speak...

President Joe Biden smiles as he walks onto stage after being introduced by Taryne Haskamp to speak about the CHIPS and Science Act, a measure intended to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research, at communications company ViaSat, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

              President Joe Biden speaks about the CHIPS and Science Act, a measure intended to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research, at communications company ViaSat, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
              President Joe Biden smiles as he walks onto stage after being introduced by Taryne Haskamp to speak about the CHIPS and Science Act, a measure intended to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research, at communications company ViaSat, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
              President Joe Biden speaks about the CHIPS and Science Act, a measure intended to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research, at communications company ViaSat, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Carlsbad, Calif.  (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has notched an envious record on jobs, with 10.3 million gained during his tenure. But voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections are far more focused on inflation hovering near 40-year highs.

That’s left the president trying to convince the public that the job gains mean better days are ahead, even as fears of a recession build.

Presidents have long trusted that voters would reward them for strong economic growth, but inflation has thrown a monkey wrench into the already difficult probability of Democrats’ retaining control of the House and Senate.

Economic anxieties have compounded as the Federal Reserve has repeatedly hiked its benchmark interest rates to lower inflation and possibly raise unemployment. Mortgage costs have shot upwards, while the S&P 500 stock index has dropped more than 20% so far this year as the world braces for a possible downturn.

Biden is asking voters to look beyond the current financial pain, saying that what matters are the job gains that he believes his policies are fostering. The government reported Friday that employers added 261,000 jobs in October as the unemployment rate bumped up to 3.7%.

Roughly 740,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since the start of Biden’s presidency, a figure that the president says will keep rising because of his funding for infrastructure projects, the production of computer chips and the switch to clean energy sources.

“America is reasserting itself — it’s as simple as that,” Biden said in a Friday speech. “We also know folks are still struggling with inflation. It’s our number one priority.”

Yet the president is also warning that a Republican majority in Congress could make inflation worse by seeking to undo his programs and treating payments on the federal debt as a bargaining chip instead of an obligation to honor.

His challenge is that the party in power generally faces skeptical voters in U.S. midterms and inflation looms over the public mindset more than job growth.

“If you have a job, it’s small comfort to know that the job market is strong if at the same time you feel like every paycheck is worth less and less anyway,” said pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson. “Inflation is such political poison because voters are reminded every day whenever they spend money that it is a problem we are experiencing.”

As Biden tries to fend off fears that inflation is causing the country to slide into a recession, his chief evidence of the economy’s resilience is the continued job growth.

“As we see the economy as a whole, we do not see it going into a recession,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in anticipation of the latest jobs report.

Going into the election, Biden and Democrats are already at a disadvantage. Voters generally favor the party out of the White House in midterms, giving Republicans an automatic leg up. When Yale University economist Ray Fair looked at past elections, his model forecast that Democrats would get just 46.4% of the national vote largely because Biden was in the Oval Office.

Fair’s analysis suggests that inflation basically erased the political boost that Democrats could have gotten from strong economic growth during three quarters in 2021. Even if the economy is top of mind for many voters, the conflicting forces of past growth and high inflation cancel out each other.

This makes the Democrats’ vote share roughly the same as suggested by the historical trend, Fair concluded.

But inflation compounds the obstacles for a president who has tried to convey optimism as he tours the country in the run-up to the elections. Research in social psychology and behavioral economics generally shows that people often focus on the negatives and can block out the positives.

“People pay more attention to bad news than to good news and are more likely to retain and recall bad news,” said Matthew Incantalupo, a political scientist at Yeshiva University.

Incantalupo’s research looks at how voters absorb economic news. When unemployment is low, as it is now, he said, voters generally think about jobs as a personal issue — rather than a systemic one involving government policies. But most think about inflation as a social problem beyond any person’s control, unless that individual happens to run the Fed.

“When it is high, everyone experiences it at least a little bit, and there really is no individual way to avoid it,” Incantalupo said. “Voters are going to look to government for remedies under those circumstances, and in many cases that will result in them punishing incumbents, even in the presence of other positive news about the economy.”

Republican candidates have specifically said Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package last year overheated the economy, causing prices to rise alongside the job gains that they claim would have happened anyway as the pandemic receded. They have also said that Biden should have loosened restrictions on oil production, in order to increase domestic output and lower gasoline prices.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy — who could become speaker if the GOP wins a House majority — has hammered Biden on high prices. As Biden has warned that Republicans who deny the outcome of the 2020 election are a threat to democracy, the California congressman countered that what voters care about are the costs of gas and groceries.

“President Biden is trying to divide and deflect at a time when America needs to unite — because he can’t talk about his policies that have driven up the cost of living,” McCarthy tweeted this past week. “The American people aren’t buying it.”

Still, inflation is not solely a domestic issue. After Russia invaded Ukraine, energy and food costs rose and suddenly flipped the global dynamics as inflation rose faster in parts of the world with less aggressive coronavirus relief than the U.S. Annual inflation in the euro zone is a record 10.7%, much higher than the 8.2% in the U.S.

Meanwhile, growth has slowed in China, the pace of world trade is slipping and Saudi Arabia-led OPEC+ has cut oil production in order to prop up prices. And because the Fed is raising rates to lower domestic inflation, the dollar has increased in value and essentially exported higher prices to the rest of the world.

This has left U.S. voters in the curious position of not necessarily blaming the president for inflation, even as they disapprove of his economic leadership.

An October poll by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs captured this split. More than half of voters say that prices are higher because of factors beyond Biden’s control. But just 36% approve of his economic leadership.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo Amazon Prime boxes are loaded on a cart for delivery in Ne...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

Amazon said Wednesday it had its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, aided by a record number of consumers looking for deals online amid high inflation.
15 hours ago
A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chi...
David Klepper, Associated Press

Twitter ends enforcement of COVID misinformation policy

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus. Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to […]
15 hours ago
FILE - The Food and Drug Administration building is seen on Dec. 10, 2020, in Silver Spring, Md. U....
Associated Press

FDA clears 1st fecal transplant treatment for gut infection

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have approved the first pharmaceutical-grade version of the so-called fecal transplant procedures that doctors have increasingly used against hard-to-treat intestinal infections. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Rebyota for adults who have trouble fighting off infections with Clostridium difficile, commonly referred to as C. diff, a bacteria that […]
15 hours ago
Officials, including those from the Federal Aviation Administration, survey damage from Saturday's ...
Associated Press

Report: No altitude advice before Dallas air show crash

DALLAS (AP) — Just before a midair collision that killed six at a Dallas air show, a group of historic fighter planes were told to fly ahead of a formation of bombers without any prior plan for coordinating altitude, according to a federal report released Wednesday. The report did not give a cause of the […]
15 hours ago
White House executive chef Cris Comerford, left, and White House executive pastry chef Susie Morris...
Associated Press

American cheese on White House state dinner menu for France

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maine lobster poached in butter, beef with shallot marmalade and an American cheese trio will be served when French President Emmanuel Macron takes his seat as the guest of honor at a red-white-and-blue themed White House state dinner, the first for President Joe Biden. Dessert will be orange chiffon cake, roasted pears […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Atlantic hurricane season ends with average number of storms

MIAMI (AP) — An Atlantic hurricane season with 14 named storms officially ended Wednesday, though residents of Florida and Puerto Rico will continue to deal with damage caused by Hurricanes Ian, Nicole and Fiona. The 2022 period had an unusually calm first half but made up for that with the three destructive hurricanes in the […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Biden stumps on job growth, as voters dread inflation