Few Americans credit Biden for reducing inflation, which is a top concern

President Joe Biden may be challenged by Marianne Williamson in 2024

The Monmouth University Poll finds that very few Americans say President Joe Biden’s policies have provided a lot of help to middle-class families – or to poor or wealthy families for that matter. 

The survey also finds that worries about the impact of inflation on Americans’ pocketbooks have ebbed but it remains a top concern.

Even though most Democrats hold a favorable opinion of Biden, only one in four would want the President to run for a second term.

More than 4 in 10 would prefer to see the incumbent step aside in favor of another candidate

Unlike most pollsters, the survey does not entirely ignore Biden’s Democratic primary challenger, Marianne Williamson, who kicked off her campaign a month ago.

However, her name was listed among a dozen or more people who are not presidential candidates.

Just 10% of Americans say middle-class families have benefited a lot from Biden’s policies so far while 51% say the middle class has not benefited at all.

In the first months of his term, more said the middle class benefited a lot (19% in June 2021) and fewer said not at all (36%). 

Biden’s current numbers are similar to where former President Donald Trump stood in the first year of his administration (11% a lot and 53% not at all in December 2017), but those results improved by the end of his term (32% a lot and 32% not at all).

Former President Barack Obama left office with ratings of 24% a lot and 33% not at all on how his policies helped the middle class. 

Of note, 44% of Democrats said Obama helped the middle class a lot in January 2017, but only 21% say the same about Biden now.

Among independents, 36% said Obama did not help the middle class at all. Today, about 6 in 10 independents (59%) say the same about Biden. 

When asked about the current president’s impact on other economic groups, 28% say Biden’s policies have benefited wealthy families a lot and 29% say not at all, and 17% say his policies have benefited poor families a lot and 42% say not at all.

“Biden’s appeal when he ran for president was that he understands the average Joe. Reaction to his policy agenda, however, suggests it is an area where he remains weak,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 38% of Americans describe themselves as middle class, 29% as working class, 14% as poor, and 16% as upper middle class or higher. 

There are only small partisan differences in these self-reports of economic status.

However, there are partisan differences in response to a question about financial stability. Overall, 4 in 10 Americans (41%) say they are struggling to remain where they are financially, while 46% feel their finances are stable and just 12% say their situation is improving. 

The current results are in line with polling conducted last year. In prior polls conducted between 2017 and 2021, the number who said they were struggling ranged within a lower level between 20% and 29%. 

Currently, the number of Americans who feel they are struggling include nearly 9 in 10 of those who consider themselves to be poor, about half of the working class, nearly 3 in 10 of the middle class, and about 1 in 8 of those who are upper middle class or even better off. 

In terms of partisanship, Republicans (45%) and independents (46%) are more likely than Democrats (28%) to report they are struggling.

There were no partisan differences on this question in 2017 – 28% of Republicans, 28% of independents, and 31% of Democrats said they were struggling then.

One-quarter of the public names inflation (24%) or rising gas prices (1%) as the biggest concern facing their family right now, which is down from the number who said the same last summer (33% for inflation in general and 15% for gas prices specifically). 

The economy (12%) and paying bills (12%) are among other top concerns mentioned. Six years ago, affording health care was the biggest concern for American families (25% in January 2017), followed by job security (14%) and everyday bills (12%). 

Today, just 4% mention health care costs and 5% name job security as their top worry.

Williamson appears to be a victim of unfair media coverage and neglect from such institutions as the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which seek to discredit anti-establishment candidates like her, Senator Bernie Sanders and New Jersey progressive Democrat Lisa McCormick.

However, the broad dissatisfaction with Biden is clearly a sign of opportunity for Williamson, who is the only alternative Democratic White House contender.

Americans also placed little confidence in members of Congress when it comes to considering the concerns of average citizens when they decide which policies to support.

The poll found that few Americans feel that members of Congress give a great deal (6%) or even some (28%) weight to the concerns of average Americans when they decide which policies to support.

Democrats (42%) are somewhat more likely than Republicans (33%) or independents (30%) to feel that Congress gives at least some weight to average Americans’ concerns.

These overall results are similar to Monmouth’s 2017 poll, although Republicans were slightly more positive about Congress then (45% said they give a great deal or some weight, compared with 39% of Democrats and 36% of independents).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 16 to 20, 2023 with 805 adults in the United States.

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