In this Jan. 3, 2020, file photo, the Wall Street sign is framed by American flags waving outside the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
President Bidens’ honeymoon phase with the scholarship is officially over.
In Bidens’ first year in office, the benchmark S&P 500 seemed to rise in only one direction. Markets shrugged off an attempted insurgency, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, and political gridlock in DC, and the S&P 500 hit 70 records in 2021, up 27%.
2022 was a different story.
Soaring inflation and attempts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy are causing stocks to crash, and the benchmark is now deeply negative for the year.
Democrats already face an uphill battle to retain their congressional majorities in this year’s midterm elections, and the deeply negative trajectory of markets in 2022 further complicates the political outlook for parties.
Granted, the stock market is not the economy, and the US economy is in fact strong in many ways, something President Biden has repeatedly tried to point out. But ordinary Americans who see the value of their nest egg dwindling significantly are unconvinced.
The stock market is a visible statistic that many Americans use as a barometer of the health of the overall economy. And when the stock market crashes like it has throughout this year, the public takes notice.
According to a recent survey by Economist/YouGov, only 20% of Americans say the US economy is excellent or good despite historically low unemployment and rising wages for American workers.
As Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, has pointed out, the economy and the stock market are closely linked. A sharp drop in the stock market will have an impact on economic activity. Clearly, this is already having an impact on how Americans view the economy and also appears to be affecting consumer behavior.
Unlike his predecessor who used the Dow Jones Industrial Average as his unofficial endorsement rating, Biden has paid very little attention to the stock market, instead focusing on promoting macro indicators such as a low unemployment rate of 3 .6% and wage gains for American workers.
However, these broader, more abstract economic gauges aren’t as visible as a stock market slowdown, and certainly aren’t as palpable as inflation, which remains at a 40-year high.
As a result, Americans generally don’t believe the president and his party are capable of leading the economy, and recent polls point to the political challenges of voter economic pessimism for Democrats.
Only 38% of Americans say they approve of President Bidens’ handling of the economy, including just 27% of independents, who are a crucial constituency in any election according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Along the same lines, a Politico/Morning survey found that, by a 10-point margin, registered voters trust Republicans (46%) over Democrats (36%) to manage the economy. The GOP advantage is even stronger among independents, of whom only 27% trust Democrats to better manage the economy, compared to 39% who trust Republicans.
For their part, the Republicans have already grasped the market slowdown and clearly intend to militarize the issue in the medium term. This week, Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, tweeted: Your 401k misses President Trump.
We can expect the GOP to intensify economic attacks like these by focusing on slowing stock markets and high levels of inflation by midterm.
As Democrats will work to shift the national conversation from economics to the issue of abortion rights in light of the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which abortion trumps economics as the main medium-term problem.
Americans will still experience higher prices for gasoline and goods in November, and if the stock market continues on its current downward trajectory, they will be voting against Democrats because of it, fair or not. While President Biden is by no means unilaterally responsible for the stock market or inflation, Americans place the blame on the president.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans think President Biden has a lot or some responsibility for rising inflation, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans think the president has a lot or a some responsibility for the downtrend in the stock market. , according to a recent Economist/YouGov poll.
Ultimately, as the declining market continues to drain Americans’ retirement savings, voter economic pessimism will continue to grow, putting Democrats at even greater risk of a historic rout in the midterm elections. .
Douglas Schoen is a Democratic political consultant.
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