As the 2024 presidential election approaches, a sense of economic dissatisfaction persists among voters despite expert opinions suggesting an improving U.S. economy under President Joe Biden. This paradoxical situation is causing confusion and concern among political strategists and economists.
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, in a conversation with the Associated Press, expressed her bewilderment at this contradiction. “Things are getting better and people think things are going to get worse — and that’s the most dangerous piece of this,” Lake said. She noted that voters are looking for a reduction in prices, not just a slowdown in inflation rates.
The Associated Press report highlighted President Biden’s economic challenge: the economy is showing signs of strength, yet public sentiment remains negative. Jared Bernstein, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, remains optimistic that with time, the public will recognize the robustness of the economy under Biden. He emphasized the administration’s continued efforts to lower costs and make tangible economic improvements for working Americans.
Former Federal Reserve economist Claudia Sahm attributed the public’s unease to the rapid and disruptive changes experienced since the pandemic. Joanne Hsu, director and chief economist of the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment, echoed this sentiment, noting the difficulty people have in adjusting to a post-pandemic economic reality different from the pre-pandemic norm.
Despite the optimistic economic indicators reported by AP News, such as significant job additions in November and a significant drop in inflation rates, voter polls reflect a prevailing pessimism. A recent Fox News poll revealed that a majority of voters remain concerned about inflation and the economy’s overall condition, with only a small percentage believing the worst is over.
Major media outlets and commentators, including CBS, The Atlantic, NPR, former CNN reporter John Harwood, and Democratic strategist James Carville, have suggested that the economy is improving. Yet, they acknowledge that the public seems to hold on to a negative perception of the economic situation.
The Biden campaign has not issued a response to these observations and the conflicting perspectives on the state of the economy.