NBC News poll: Seven in ten Americans not buying Biden’s happy talk on economy — or much else

Source: Hot Air

Media outlets have filled headlines and pages with the Joe Biden and Democrats’ Comeback Narrative. Approval ratings are up slightly! Generic ballot gaps have narrowed (in polls where Democrats normally have to lead by more than five points to stave off a loss)!

How does anyone look at this assessment of the status quo by the electorate in NBC News’ latest poll and not see past that noise?

Nearly three-quarters of voters in a new poll said they believed things in the U.S. were headed in the wrong direction.

An NBC News poll revealed just 21 percent of voters feel the nation is headed in the right direction, while 74 percent think the opposite.

Over half of respondents, or 58 percent, said they feel “more worried that America’s best years may already be behind us,” while 35 percent feel more confident the best years are still ahead.

That’s three quarters of the electorate seeing the country rolling in the wrong direction — under Democratic single-party governance, no less. Undoubtedly, some portion of that are progressives that think that Biden & Co haven’t gone far enough, or are sore that the original Build Back Better proposal didn’t get passed. Some of them may be what Biden tried calling the “ultra-MAGA” slice that sees any period of Democratic control of the federal government as a “wrong direction.”

Neither of those hypotheses explains how only 21% think we’re going in the right direction, though. Democrats comprise well over than 30% of registered voters, and electoral results show the nation narrowly split across a tiny center. This is an overwhelming rejection of Biden’s status quo.

A large part of that rejection results from an inflationary wave that has eroded the buying power of American households. For five straight quarters, real disposable household income has fallen in a compounding manner thanks to rapid inflation that Biden at first ignored and then spent months of  blame-shifting to dodge responsibility. The White House has spent the last two months since the end of the second quarter insisting that the US has not yet entered a recession despite two successive quarters of contraction.

No one’s buying that either in this poll, as Punchbowl notes:

Democrats and the White House, meanwhile, pointed to a number of mitigating factors, including record low unemployment and continued strong job growth, which aren’t indicative of a recession. Thursday’s release will have more complete data for everyone to fight over.

However, the American public clearly isn’t buying the Democrats’ argument, which is bad news for them heading into November, despite their recent run of legislative success in Congress.

An NBC News poll released on Sunday showed 68% of Americans believe the country is in a recession right now. Fully 50% of those polled said things will get worse economically before they get better (versus 26% the other way). Biden’s overall approval ratings are still deeply underwater (42% approve, 55% disapprove), although his ratings on the economy (40% approve, 56% disapprove) have gotten somewhat less terrible.

Two-thirds of Americans think the US is in a recession right now. After five straight quarters of declining disposable income, who can blame them? It may not be a recession for Biden and his pals, but it’s a recession at the kitchen table for Americans forced to curtail their spending and downscale the choices they make.

Punchbowl grasps at a straw that other media outlets have also noted:

There was one important development in this poll for Democrats, however. “Threats to democracy” has emerged as the top issue for voters, followed by the cost of living, jobs and the economy, and immigration.

Let’s see if that pops up in other polls as a bigger issue than the economy and inflation, but that phrase seems a bit push-poll-ish. “Threats to democracy” is so vague as to assume nearly any meaning, and it might get people to say, golly I like democracy so I have to pick that issue. Issues such as inflation, cost of living, jobs, the economy, and immigration are a lot more concrete. Americans get impacted by most of these every day, unlike “threats to democracy,” and in some areas get impacted by immigration issues nearly at the same frequency.

Thirty years ago, James Carville presciently insisted that “it’s the economy, stupid” when it comes to elections. In this cycle, where inflation is running at highs not seen in over 40 years and nearly everyone sees Biden and Democrats leading the country in the wrong direction, that will be much more true. This is not 2010, 2014, or 2018, and these kind of overall numbers on direction and the economy signal a much different electoral context in 2022.