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Trump trusted more than Biden on inflation, a top issue for voters, poll shows

Written by on May 18, 2024

(NEW YORK) — U.S. adults trust former President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden on the issue of inflation by a double-digit margin, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll this month, which found that price increases remain a top concern for voters, with less than six months to go until Election Day.

In all, 85% of poll participants said inflation is an important issue, making it the second-highest priority among adults surveyed. The top priority, the economy, also relates to individuals’ perceptions of price increases.

On each of those issues, the economy and inflation, adults surveyed by ABC News/Ipsos said they trusted Trump over Biden by a margin of 14 percentage points.

Price increases have slowed significantly from a recent peak of about 9%, but inflation still stands more than a percentage point higher than the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2%.

Rising gasoline and housing costs accounted for 70% of the price increases last month, according to data this week from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Inflation is something that affects absolutely everybody,” Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution, told ABC News. “People notice it, whether they’re rich or poor.”

In response to ABC News’ request for comment, the Biden campaign provided a statement touting the president’s economic achievements

“President Biden has delivered where Trump failed the American people: 15 million new jobs and record-low unemployment, bringing down costs, and investing billions in communities that have been left behind for too long,” the statement said.

“All of this is on the line this November: If Trump sets foot in the Oval Office, he’ll make it his mission to undo this progress, ship jobs to China, and send costs through the roof. Voters want a candidate who will make their lives better, and Joe Biden is the only candidate who will,” the statement added.

The Trump campaign did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Todd Fisher, 60, a retired automotive engineer who lives in Miami, Florida, said he’s noticed rapid price increases for everything from haircuts to groceries.

“Everything keeps going up and up and up,” Fisher, who lives on a pension, told ABC News. “I’m not broke or anything but I’d prefer it to be the other way. It’s more money for the bank.”

Trump is better equipped to address inflation, Fisher said, noting that the onset of elevated inflation in 2021 took place under Biden.

“It wasn’t happening when Trump was president,” said Fisher, who identifies as an independent. “I think he’s more aware of what’s going on.”

When asked about the cooldown of price increases that began in 2022, Fisher said it still amounts to price increases, given previous hikes.

“When inflation goes down, it doesn’t necessarily mean the store is going to take everything back to the way it was,” he added.

Analysts who spoke to ABC News said any president retains limited control over the trajectory of prices, but inflation poses a stiff political challenge because progress made on the issue often registers less with voters than the initial problem did.

“For voters, they feel increases in inflation are extremely salient,” Francesco D’Acunto, a Georgetown University finance professor who studies how people understand economic news, told ABC News. “They feel this is very problematic and negative for their own finances.”

“But there is no symmetric reaction on the decreasing end of inflation,” D’Acunto added. “Prices still keep growing but at a slower pace.”

Elevated inflation aside, the economy is performing well on other key metrics. Unemployment stands near a 65-year low, while economic growth remains solid and the major stock indexes are fresh off of record highs.

The robust performance has defied expectations amid a prolonged period of high interest rates, which have sent borrowing rates soaring for everything from mortgages to credit cards. The Fed earlier this month opted for the sixth consecutive time to hold interest rates steady, keeping them at a level last seen in 2001.

Still, 43% of respondents surveyed by ABC News/Ipsos said they’ve become worse off financially under the Biden presidency. Among those who say they’ve held steady financially, Biden leads by a wide margin of 66% to 21% percentage points, poll results showed.

Kenneth Vickers, 34, an elevator constructor who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, said his finances improved about a year ago when he joined a union. But, he added, inflation remains a top concern.

“I make a good amount of money but a lot of other people don’t,” Vickers said. “It’s difficult to get through the day to day, week to week and month to month issues that might come around when you’ve got to pay your bills.”

Vickers, who identifies as an independent, said he trusts Trump to handle the issue better than Biden.

“Trump is a businessman,” Vickers added. “He’s been through the wringer as far as running a business and maintaining wealth.”

Even so, Vickers said he remains undecided about who he’ll vote for in November, noting other issues of importance to him, such as immigration and foreign policy.

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