Democrats Warn Biden To Stop Doubling Down on Positive Economy Rhetoric While People Are Struggling

By: Alex Trent | Published: May 27, 2024

Recently, Democrats have expressed increased worry at Joe Biden maintaining selectively positive talking points about the current US economy, which they worry disconnects him from the reported economic perceptions of his potential voters.

Voters continue to disagree with Biden’s positive message about the economy, and Biden has thus far failed to overall change people’s perceptions of the economy under his leadership.

Perception of the Economy

Joe Biden has thus far employed a strategy of citing favorable data and statistics to paint a rosy picture of the economy ahead of the election. However, it’s hard to change people’s perceptions once it sets in.

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“This has been a constant, constant problem. His desire to claim credit is a huge obstacle to connecting with voters on this issue,” said David Axelrod, the lead strategist for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. “We learned this in 2011 and 2012. You can cite data until the cows come home, but what counts is how people are perceiving the economy.”

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Democrats in Congress

Congressional Democrats have also reached out to Biden to try to convince him to have more compassion in his messaging about the economy.

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In one exchange reported by the WSJ, Biden was apparently surprised that people couldn’t pick up his concern about Americans struggling. “I care. I know people are hurting,” Biden told the lawmaker.

Biden Aides

According to the Wall Street Journal, Biden’s aides are increasingly pushing the president to gain a better understanding of the economic reality of many struggling voters who feel prices are out of control.

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These aides want Biden to reposition his message to one of empathy that acknowledges the struggle of Americans but still makes him look favorable to his opponent Donald Trump.

Testing the Waters

Recently, Biden seemed to be trying out this strategy of balancing an acknowledgment of the struggle people are facing but emphasizing the progress that has already been made.

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In response to the recent release of the April Consumer Price Index, Biden said “I know many families are struggling, and that even though we’ve made progress we have a lot more to do” in a White House statement.

Balancing Act

Chair of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers Jared Bernstein told the WSJ that Biden recognizes “that families are still struggling with high prices.”

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However, Bernstein was also insistent that Biden should emphasize where he is doing well, saying “it would be malpractice for him not to elaborate on some very important economic gains that occurred on his watch.”

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Republicans Taking Advantage

Biden’s weakness on the economy as an incumbent President is not lost on his Republican opponents. Trump and Republicans want to make Biden take responsibility for the current economy, which many Americans see as bad.

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“He looks out of touch when he is bragging about how good the economy is,” said Republican representative Don Bacon.

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Bidenomics

Critics of the President have seized on the phrase ‘Bidenomics’ as a shorthand to describe the litany of economic struggles people perceive.

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It is often brought up in reference to things like rising gas prices, inflation, and increased rent costs. Biden has since attempted to coopt this term to give it a positive spin, but has largely failed to convince voters of the efficacy of ‘Bidenomics.’

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How Do Americans Feel About the Economy?

Regardless of what certain economic data metrics and numbers may show, many Americans have the perception that the United States economy is not doing well.

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Last week, the Guardian reported that three in five Americans believe the US is in an economic recession and that the majority of Americans blame the Biden administration.

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Consumer Confidence

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index from last month found that confidence among Americans about the economy dropped for the first time since October. On a scale of -100 to +100, the index placed American economic sentiments at -29.

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During the time of the poll, Gallup noted that gas prices were rising as well as inflation in general.

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Trump Gets Credit

Consistent polling has shown that people feel that they were better off economically under Trump compared to Biden. Many voters credit the former President with economic success based on their memory of the time, which Trump will brag about.

Donald Trump does a dance on stage at a campaign rally in New York.

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“We had the greatest economy in history,” Trump said at a recent Wisconsin rally. “The 30-year mortgage rate was at a record low, the lowest ever recorded … 2.65%, that’s what your mortgage rates were.”

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Biden Not Getting Credit

Democrats are frustrated that while the US economy is getting better in some ways, Biden is not getting any credit in voter’s minds as people continue to struggle under the fallout of recent downturned years.

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on the phone at his desk.

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“This is a confounding problem for the administration and it was when I was at the White House as well,” said Kate Bedingfield, a former Biden White House communications director. “You have all these indicators showing the economy is strong and getting stronger. And yet it remains true that people are not feeling it as intensely in their day-to-day lives as the White House hopes they would.”

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