There’s a growing consensus on the left that Joe Biden’s polling numbers are abysmal for one very simple reason: bad messaging.
According to this theory, the people are simply misinformed about the state of the country and economy, and if only the White House could tweak perceptions here and there, the president’s polling would improve considerably. What absolutely cannot be entertained is the idea that the American people know precisely what condition the economy is in, and how bad things really are, because of daily experience with rising inflation.
But now, even analysts on a leading administration mouthpiece like CNN are unwilling to attribute the public’s unhappiness with Biden’s handling of the economy to a simple matter of “poor optics.” Appearing on “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Monday, CNN data analyst Harry Enten took issue with the White House’s ridiculous claim that Biden’s terrible polling on the economy is a result of “bad messaging,” rather than record inflation and rising prices.
“I think there is the idea, ‘Oh, the White House is just losing the messaging war. If only they knew how good the job situation was,'” Enten said when asked by Tapper why Americans were down on the economy.
“But if you ask Americans, ‘why do you think the economy is bad,’ it’s inflation. The voters know exactly what’s going on. They’re not stupid. 86% say inflation. Only 17% say unemployment if they believe the economy is in bad shape.”
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) April 11, 2022
Recent polling has indicated one thing with unerring consistency: Americans think the economy is in the dumps, despite relatively high job numbers. And it all comes down to inflation—although the employment rate is positive, skyrocketing gas and food prices are eating into paychecks and destroying the public’s confidence in the resiliency of the economy.
The White House, meanwhile, is blaming the high prices on Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. They even brainstormed a not-so-clever Twitter marketing campaign: “#PutinPriceHike.” It’s a pretty transparent attempt at deflection, however, and the American public has been less swayed by this argument than the White House seems to have hoped. Foreign wars have been a fairly consistent factor in the geopolitical scene for decades, and few are inclined to give Biden’s shortsighted policies a pass on account of the misdeeds of Vladimir Putin.
Harry Enten, for his part, dismissed the notion that poor messaging is what’s behind the administration’s dismal polling.
“How do Americans feel about the economy overall?” Jake Tapper asked.
“Yeah, this is a really just mixed economy, it’s kind of very confusing, right?” Enten said. “If you look at the unemployment rate, it’s below 4%. We’re going back to an unemployment rate that’s lower than since before the pandemic began. But look at the annual inflation rate, 7.9%…that is the highest since 1982.”
“When Americans are trying to look at these two competing measures,” he continued, “you know it’s pretty easy to get a job, but it might be hard to actually buy something. How do they actually see the economy going? And what we see in the polling is, ‘do Americans feel the economy is good or the economy is bad,’ the vast majority—63% in a CBS News/YouGov poll yesterday—said the economy was bad, only 31% was good, and even among Democrats in that poll, only about 50% said it was good. So most Americans think the economy is in bad shape.”
Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index report is due on Tuesday, and the White House is bracing for bad news. Fortunately, they already have a ready scapegoat to deflect blame.
“We expect March CPI headline inflation to be extraordinarily elevated due to Putin’s price hike,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
It always comes back to the Russians.
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