Vibes poll: Biden's key voting blocs stressed about money
Half of millennials and Gen Z say they're staying up late worrying about money. Women in particular don't feel like they're getting ahead financially. And nearly 60% of Hispanics say they're more stressed about their household budgets than they were before the pandemic.
Why it matters: The findings in the new Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll show several of President Biden's crucial voting blocs are plagued by financial stress — despite data that point to an improving economy.
- Their uneasiness is an important warning sign for Biden less than 10 months before the 2024 election.
Axios Vibe Check: Reports of low unemployment and steadying prices suggest Americans should feel 🙏 but many Americans, including those ages 18-42 feel 😬 about their finances.
Zoom in: 49% of Americans overall said their household budget today brings more stress than their pre-pandemic budget, the survey says.
- Asked whom they blame for today's high prices, a plurality (34%) of respondents said "the current administration."
- "There's a lot of different, very diverse groups ... who still have these depressed economic attitudes," John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, told Axios.
- "They're just not believing or not feeling what Biden is talking about" when the president touts sunnier days ahead.
By the numbers: About 40% of millennials and Gen Z have asked family or friends for money to help with bills in the past month, compared with just 20% of Gen X and boomers.
- That budget anxiety — along with younger Americans' concern about Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict — could be contributing to the president's declining support among young voters in recent polls.
- 43% of women reported having poor finances, compared to less than a third of men. Women also were far less likely to describe themselves as getting ahead financially — 27% compared to 44% of men.
Recent polls have shown Biden's support among Hispanic voters slipping, and in the Vibes survey, Hispanic respondents were the most likely racial/ethnic group to say they felt more stressed by their household budget today than before the pandemic — 59%.
- One in three of Hispanic respondents blamed the Biden administration for high prices, while a quarter pointed to outside factors such as the pandemic or global instability.
The other side: Older generations were more likely to blame Biden's administration for high prices than younger generations.
- A quarter of millennials and Gen Z respondents placed the blame on "events outside U.S. control," a sign that some might give Biden a pass on the issue.
- Biden's economic policies are popular among many young people, and some have benefited from student loan forgiveness, NextGen America president Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez told Axios. But Ramirez added that young voters want more — especially on affordable housing.
- There also are signs that some Americans are starting to feel better about the economy overall. Biden ended 2023 with the consumer confidence index ticking up to its highest level in five months.
Between the lines: The White House has many strong economic data points to point to — falling inflation and gas prices, healthy job creation and higher hourly earnings, for example.
- But it's wrestling with how to resolve the disconnect between all that data and how many Americans feel.
What they're saying: "Americans have faced unprecedented challenges over the last few years, as COVID-19 and Putin's war in Ukraine caused prices around the world to spike," White House spokesperson Michael Kikukawa told Axios in a statement.
- "President Biden took strong action. ... As a result, household wealth is at a record high; wages are rising and higher than before the pandemic; unemployment is near record lows; and foreclosures, bankruptcies, and credit card and student loan debt as a share of income are below pre-pandemic levels."
Methodology: The findings in this Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll are based on a nationally representative sample of 2,120 U.S. adults conducted online, Dec. 15-17, 2023.
- The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the data for this population is accurate to within +/- 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.