Wednesday, July 24

Brighter Economic Mood Isn’t Translating Into Support for Biden

Economic vibes don’t necessarily predict electoral outcomes, though, and this campaign is different in many ways from those in the past. “We’re kind of in an unprecedented situation where we’re weighing two incumbents,” said Joanne Hsu, who runs the Michigan survey.

Anthony Rice, a 54-year-old Democrat in eastern Indiana, and pretty much everyone he knows, he said, are doing well right now. Gas prices are down, jobs are plentiful, and Mr. Rice, a unionized dump-truck driver, is benefiting directly from the infrastructure law that Mr. Biden signed in 2021. Yet few people in the deep-red part of the country where he lives will acknowledge that, Mr. Rice said.

“There are more people now that are working, have better jobs, have more chances to get better jobs now than at any other time,” he said. “I don’t understand why they can’t see how good it is.”

Amber Wichowsky, a political scientist at Marquette University who has studied voters’ economic perceptions, said it was not surprising that many Americans might be feeling uneasy despite strong economic data. The pandemic and its aftermath were deeply disruptive, she said, and it isn’t surprising that it could take time for things to feel normal again.

The question, Ms. Wichowsky said, is how much, if at all, voters’ views will shift as the campaign gets underway in earnest. So far, Mr. Biden has made little apparent progress in selling his economic message, but many voters aren’t yet paying attention. In the coming months, the Biden campaign will also ramp up a sales effort for the president’s economic record — including billions of dollars in spending on infrastructure and clean energy, which will become easier to communicate as projects get underway.