MONMOUTH NATIONAL: MORE AMERICANS STRUGGLING; INFLATION, GAS PRICES TOP FAMILY CONCERNS

Dr. Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Director

 

NATIONAL: MORE AMERICANS STRUGGLING;

INFLATION, GAS PRICES TOP FAMILY CONCERNS

Majority say federal government actions are hurting them

West Long Branch, NJ – The number of Americans who are financially struggling has increased by double digits in the past year as inflation and gas prices top the list of problems faced by the nation’s families. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”University Poll finds a majority say the federal government’s actions are hurting them and that President Joe Biden’s policies are not benefitting the middle class. Preference for party control of Congress remains divided, with no real movement since the spring.

More than 4 in 10 Americans (42%) say they are struggling to remain where they are financially. This is the first time since Monmouth started asking the question five years ago that the number topped 3 in 10 – the range in prior polls was 20% to 29%. Just under half (47%) say their current financial situation is basically stable and only 9% say it is improving. The high point for improving was 25% in April 2019.  The number of people who say they are struggling has increased by 18 points since last year (from 24% to 42%), with that increase being fairly across the board when examining key demographic groups, including income, race, and partisanship (* see note). Currently, reports of struggling financially come from 58% of those earning under $50,000 (up 18 points from June 2021), 35% of those earning $50,000-$100,000 (up 15 points), and 28% of those earning over $100,000 (up 18 points).

Nearly half of the public names either inflation (33%) or gas prices (15%) as the biggest concern facing their family right now. The economy in general (9%) and paying everyday bills (6%) are among other financial concerns mentioned. Abortion, which has registered less than 1% on this question in prior Monmouth polls going back to 2015, is currently named by 5% – predominantly among Democrats (9%). Inflation and gas prices are the top two family concerns across a wide variety of demographic groups, including income, race, and partisan identity. Inflation as a top concern emerged in Monmouth’s July 2021 poll at 5% and then grew to 14% in December, before more than doubling in the current poll. The current poll is also the first time that gas prices are mentioned by more than a handful of Americans as their predominant issue. One year ago, the poll registered a wider variety of top issues, including the pandemic (17%), the economy (11%), everyday bills (11%), health care costs (7%) and job security (7%).

“Economic concerns tend to rise to the top of the list of family concerns, as you might expect, but the singular impact of inflation is really hitting home right now. And most Americans are blaming Washington for their current pain,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

A majority of 57% say that the actions of the federal government over the past six months have hurt their family when it comes to their most important concern. Just 8% say Washington has helped them and 34% say federal actions have had no real impact on their top concern. In prior polls, between 34% and 47% said government actions have hurt them on their biggest family concern. The current poll marks the first time this sentiment is in the majority. The results also indicate little optimism about the future – just 23% expect that future government actions over the next few years will help improve their family’s top concern while 45% say Washington will hurt them. One year ago, that response was basically flipped (40% expected to be helped and 34% expected to be hurt).

Currently, 54% of Americans say the middle class has not benefited at all from Biden’s policies. This is up from 36% one year ago and it is also higher than 36% who said the same about former President Donald Trump at about the same point in his term (April 2018). It is even higher than 46% who said the same about former President Barack Obama in 2013, when Monmouth first posed this question.  Just 7% say the middle class has been helped a lot by Biden’s policies and 34% say they have been helped a little. A majority (52%) also say that poor families have not benefited from Biden’s presidency, up from 29% in July 2021. The current result was similar for Trump in 2018 (53%) but it is higher than it was for Obama in 2013 (37%).

Biden’s overall job rating continues to trend downward.  Currently, just 36% approve of the job he is doing while 58% disapprove. It has now been a year since Biden held a net positive rating (48% approve and 44% disapprove in July 2021). Just 10% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 88% say it is on the wrong track. This marks an all-time low for this question going back to 2013. The prior low was recorded in May of this year at 18% right direction and 79% wrong track. Just 15% approve of the job Congress is doing, matching the May result.

“The state of the economy has Americans in a foul mood. They are not happy with Washington. However, that has not changed the overall picture of whom they want in control of Congress. The question is who actually shows up to vote in the fall,” said Murray.

The public remains divided on whether they prefer to have the Republicans (36%) or the Democrats (38%) in control of Congress. When the poll pushed for “leaners” among those who initially say party control does not matter, 11% gets added to the GOP column and 9% for the Democrats. The combined 47% Republican and 47% Democrat split represents a statistically insignificant shift from the parties’ relative standing in prior polls. Six in 10 (60%) Americans say it is very important to have their preferred party in control of Congress. This congressional control importance metric is similar among those who want Democrats (66%) and those who want Republicans (63%) leading Congress.

         

National poll of adults
June 23-27, 2022

	Very important that preferred party controls Congress
	   2022	Rep	Dem
	   Jun	63%	66%
	   May	61%	67%
	   Mar	64%	59%
	   Jan	56%	61%

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 23 to 27, 2022 with 978 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

* Note on partisan results for financial situation question:

Monmouth’s question asking respondents to assess their current financial situation seems straightforward, but like almost all aspects of public discourse today, it is filtered through a partisan lens.  Even though the overall results for this question remained relatively stable from 2017 through 2021, there were huge partisan shifts after the White House changed hands. Specifically, 24% of Americans said they were struggling financially in both 2018 and 2021. However, the number of Republicans who reported this situation jumped from 14% to 30% after the presidency changed from Trump to Biden, while the number of Democrats who said they were struggling dropped from 34% to 17%. The results for independents were relatively stable (23% in 2018 and 27% in 2021). Thus, the results of this question as a neutral snapshot of personal finances should be viewed with this caveat in mind. However, the fact that reports of struggling financially have increased over the past year by similar amounts among Republicans (+15 points), Democrats (+16 points) and independents (+18) alike indicates there has been a significant shift in the American public’s financial concerns regardless of partisanship.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1.      Do you approve or disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as president?

  TREND:

June2022

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Dec.2021

Nov.2021

Sept.2021

July2021

June2021

April2021

March2021

Jan.2021

Approve

36%

38%

39%

39%

40%

42%

46%

48%

48%

54%

51%

54%

Disapprove

58%

57%

54%

54%

50%

50%

46%

44%

43%

41%

42%

30%

(VOL) No opinion

6%

5%

7%

7%

11%

9%

8%

8%

9%

5%

8%

16%

(n)

(978)

(807)

(809)

(794)

(808)

(811)

(802)

(804)

(810)

(800)

(802)

(809)

2.      Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

  TREND:

June2022

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Dec.2021

Nov.2021

Sept.2021

July2021

June2021

April2021

March2021

Jan.2021

Approve

15%

15%

21%

19%

23%

18%

22%

23%

21%

35%

30%

35%

Disapprove

78%

77%

71%

74%

66%

70%

65%

62%

65%

56%

59%

51%

(VOL) No opinion

7%

8%

8%

6%

11%

12%

13%

15%

15%

9%

11%

14%

(n)

(978)

(807)

(809)

(794)

(808)

(811)

(802)

(804)

(810)

(800)

(802)

(809)

  TREND:

Continued

Nov.2020

Early June2020

May2020

April2020

Feb.2020

Jan.2020

Dec.2019

Nov.2019

Sept.2019

Aug.2019

June2019

May2019

April2019

March2019

Jan.2019

Approve

23%

22%

32%

32%

20%

24%

22%

23%

21%

17%

19%

20%

24%

23%

18%

Disapprove

64%

69%

55%

55%

69%

62%

65%

64%

68%

71%

69%

71%

62%

68%

72%

(VOL) No opinion

13%

9%

13%

13%

11%

14%

13%

13%

11%

13%

12%

9%

14%

9%

10%

(n)

(810)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(902)

(903)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

(805)

  TREND: Continued

Nov.2018

Aug.2018

June2018

April2018

March2018

Jan.2018

Dec.2017

Sept.2017

Aug.2017

July2017

May2017

March2017

Jan.2017

Approve

23%

17%

19%

17%

18%

21%

16%

17%

18%

19%

19%

25%

23%

Disapprove

63%

69%

67%

71%

72%

68%

65%

69%

69%

70%

68%

59%

66%

(VOL) No opinion

14%

14%

14%

12%

11%

11%

19%

15%

13%

11%

13%

16%

11%

(n)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

(806)

(1,009)

(805)

(800)

(1,002)

(801)

(801)

  TREND: Continued

Sept.2016*

Aug.2016*

June2016*

March2016

Jan.2016

Dec.2015

Oct.2015

Sept.2015

Aug.2015

July2015

June2015

April2015

Jan.2015

Dec.2014

July2013

Approve

15%

14%

17%

22%

17%

16%

17%

19%

18%

18%

19%

21%

18%

17%

14%

Disapprove

77%

78%

76%

68%

73%

73%

71%

71%

72%

69%

71%

67%

70%

73%

76%

(VOL) No opinion

8%

9%

7%

10%

10%

10%

12%

11%

11%

12%

10%

12%

11%

11%

10%

(n)

(802)

(803)

(803)

(1,008)

(1,003)

(1,006)

(1,012)

(1,009)

(1,203)

(1,001)

(1,002)

(1,005)

(1,003)

(1,008)

(1,012)

        * Registered voters

3.      Would you rather see the Republicans or the Democrats in control of Congress, or doesn’t this matter to you? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED] [If DOES NOT MATTER: If you had to lean one way or the other would you pick the Republicans or the Democrats?]

  TREND:

June2022

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Republicans

36%

36%

33%

35%

Not matter, but lean Rep

11%

12%

12%

15%

Democrats

38%

34%

33%

33%

Not matter, but lean Dem

9%

10%

13%

10%

Does not matter, no lean

6%

7%

9%

7%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

1%

1%

0%

(n)

(978)

(807)

(809)

(794)

4.      Is it very important, somewhat important, or only a little important to have [Republicans/Democrats] in control of Congress? [CHOICE READ FROM Q3]

  TREND:

June2022

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Very important

60%

59%

56%

54%

Somewhat important

20%

20%

21%

23%

Only a little important

11%

12%

12%

15%

(VOL) Don’t know / Does not matter who controls Congress (from Q3)

9%

9%

11%

8%

(n)

(978)

(807)

(809)

(794)

[Q5 previously released.]

 

6.      Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

  TREND:

June2022

May2022

March2022

Jan.2022

Dec.2021

Nov.2021

Sept.2021

July2021

June2021

April2021

March2021

Jan.2021

Right direction

10%

18%

24%

24%

30%

31%

29%

38%

37%

46%

34%

42%

Wrong track

88%

79%

73%

71%

66%

64%

65%

56%

57%

50%

61%

51%

(VOL) Depends

1%

2%

1%

3%

1%

2%

4%

3%

3%

2%

4%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

2%

2%

2%

3%

3%

2%

4%

3%

2%

2%

4%

(n)

(978)

(807)

(809)

(794)

(808)

(811)

(802)

(804)

(810)

(800)

(802)

(809)

  TREND: Continued

Nov.2020

Early Sept.2020

Aug.2020

Late June2020

Early June2020

May2020

April2020

March2020

Feb.2020

Jan.2020

Right direction

26%

27%

22%

18%

21%

33%

30%

39%

37%

37%

Wrong track

68%

66%

72%

74%

74%

60%

61%

54%

57%

56%

(VOL) Depends

4%

4%

4%

5%

4%

4%

5%

4%

6%

6%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

3%

2%

3%

1%

3%

5%

3%

1%

1%

(n)

(810)

(867)

(868)

(867)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(851)

(902)

(903)

  TREND: Continued

Dec.2019

Nov.2019

Sept.2019

Aug.2019

June2019

May2019

April2019

March2019

Nov.2018

Aug.2018

June2018

April2018

March2018

Jan.2018

Right direction

32%

30%

30%

28%

31%

29%

28%

29%

35%

35%

40%

33%

31%

37%

Wrong track

56%

61%

61%

62%

62%

63%

62%

63%

55%

57%

53%

58%

61%

57%

(VOL) Depends

8%

7%

6%

8%

6%

4%

7%

6%

7%

6%

3%

5%

6%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

4%

2%

2%

2%

2%

3%

3%

2%

3%

3%

3%

4%

1%

3%

(n)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

  TREND: Continued

Dec.2017

Aug.2017

May2017

March2017

Jan.2017

Aug.2016*

Oct.2015

July2015

June2015

April2015

Dec.2014

July2013

Right direction

24%

32%

31%

35%

29%

30%

24%

28%

23%

27%

23%

28%

Wrong track

66%

58%

61%

56%

65%

65%

66%

63%

68%

66%

69%

63%

(VOL) Depends

7%

4%

5%

4%

4%

2%

6%

5%

5%

5%

5%

5%

(VOL) Don’t know

3%

5%

3%

5%

2%

3%

4%

3%

3%

2%

3%

4%

(n)

(806)

(805)

(1,002)

(801)

(801)

(803)

(1,012)

(1,001)

(1,002)

(1,005)

(1,008)

(1,012)

        * Registered voters

7.      Turning to issues closer to home, what is the biggest concern facing your family right now? [LIST WAS NOT READ]

  TREND:

June

2022

Dec.

2021

July

2021

Aug.

2020

March

2020

April

2019

April

2018

Jan.

2017

Jan.

2015

Inflation

33%

14%

5%

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Gas prices

15%

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

The economy

9%

6%

11%

7%

5%

6%

3%

3%

2%

Everyday bills, groceries, etc.

6%

15%

11%

8%

6%

8%

12%

12%

16%

Abortion, reproductive rights

5%

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Guns, gun ownership

3%

0%

0%

0%

0%

1%

2%

n/a

n/a

Health care costs

3%

5%

7%

4%

5%

19%

13%

25%

15%

Job security, unemployment

3%

6%

7%

10%

7%

7%

9%

14%

16%

College tuition, school costs

2%

1%

2%

1%

0%

3%

4%

4%

10%

Housing, mortgage, rent

2%

2%

3%

2%

1%

2%

4%

3%

4%

Safety, crime

2%

3%

3%

3%

1%

3%

3%

3%

2%

Civil rights

1%

1%

3%

1%

0%

3%

1%

3%

n/a

Climate change, environment

1%

2%

3%

0%

1%

3%

1%

1%

n/a

Coronavirus/COVID-19

1%

18%

17%

39%

57%

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Education policy

1%

1%

3%

3%

1%

2%

2%

1%

2%

Family illness, health

1%

4%

3%

4%

3%

3%

3%

3%

4%

Quality of government

1%

4%

3%

3%

0%

2%

3%

1%

2%

Social Security, seniors

1%

1%

1%

1%

0%

3%

3%

3%

2%

Taxes

1%

2%

3%

1%

1%

9%

7%

4%

7%

Immigration

0%

1%

2%

0%

0%

5%

4%

3%

1%

Retirement saving

0%

0%

0%

1%

0%

0%

1%

2%

3%

Terrorism, national security

0%

0%

1%

1%

0%

1%

2%

2%

1%

Other

5%

2%

3%

4%

3%

6%

6%

3%

4%

Don’t know/No answer

6%

11%

9%

8%

9%

16%

15%

10%

8%

(n)

(978)

(808)

(804)

(868)

(851)

(801)

(803)

(801)

(1,003)

[Question 8 was asked only of those who mentioned a concern in Q7: n=931moe=+/-3.2 %]

8.      Thinking about this most important concern, have the actions of the federal government over the past six months helped, hurt, or had no real impact on this concern?

TREND: 

June

2022

Dec.

2021*

July

2021

April2019**

April2018**

Jan.2017***

Jan.2015***

Helped

8%

25%

31%

14%

14%

27%

14%

Hurt

57%

46%

34%

42%

39%

37%

47%

No real impact

34%

27%

31%

42%

44%

34%

38%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

2%

3%

2%

3%

2%

2%

(n)

(931)

(747)

(730)

(692)

(680)

(728)

(926)

      * Dec. 2021 asked about “since the beginning of the year”

        ** 2019 and 2018 asked about “the past year”

        *** 2017 and 2015 asked about “the past few years”

[Question 9 was asked only of those who mentioned a concern in Q7: n=931moe=+/-3.2%]

9.      And do you think the actions of the federal government over the next few years will help, hurt, or have no real impact on this concern?

TREND:

June

2022

July

2021

April2019

April2018

Jan.2017

Help

23%

40%

29%

26%

42%

Hurt

45%

34%

32%

36%

33%

No real impact

20%

18%

26%

27%

21%

(VOL) Don’t know

12%

8%

13%

11%

4%

(n)

(931)

(730)

(692)

(680)

(728)

10.    Thinking about your current financial situation, would you say you are struggling to remain where you are financially, basically stable in your current financial situation, or is your financial situation improving?

  TREND:

June2022

June2021

Late June2020

Early June2020

May2020

April2020

March2020

April2019

April2018

Jan.2017

Struggling

42%

24%

22%

20%

23%

26%

26%

20%

24%

29%

Stable

47%

58%

61%

65%

63%

62%

61%

54%

51%

51%

Improving

9%

14%

17%

13%

13%

11%

11%

25%

23%

20%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

3%

1%

1%

1%

2%

1%

1%

2%

0%

(n)

(978)

(810)

(867)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(851)

(801)

(803)

(801)

11.    How much have each of the following groups benefited from President Biden’s policies so far.  [READ ITEM] – Have they benefited a lot, a little, or not at all? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

Middle class families

   COMPARISON:

 

 

 

Benefited under Trump

Benefited under Obama

June2022

Nov.2021

July2021

June2021

 

 

Jan.2021

April

2019

April2018

Dec.2017

 

 

Jan.

2017

July

2013

A lot

7%

14%

21%

19%

 

 

32%

18%

14%

11%

 

 

24%

12%

A little

34%

39%

41%

32%

 

 

33%

37%

45%

25%

 

 

41%

39%

Not at all

54%

42%

33%

36%

 

 

32%

36%

36%

53%

 

 

33%

46%

(VOL) Don’t know

5%

5%

5%

14%

 

 

3%

9%

5%

11%

 

 

2%

2%

(n)

(978)

(811)

(804)

(810)

 

 

(809)

(801)

(803)

(806)

 

 

(801)

(1,012)

Wealthy families

  COMPARISON:

 

 

Benefited under Trump

Benefited under Obama

June2022

Nov.2021

July2021

 

 

April2019

April2018

 

 

Jan.

2017

July

2013

A lot

28%

25%

22%

 

 

58%

57%

 

 

29%

35%

A little

25%

28%

30%

 

 

22%

26%

 

 

43%

31%

Not at all

35%

32%

35%

 

 

9%

7%

 

 

17%

23%

(VOL) Don’t know

12%

14%

14%

 

 

11%

10%

 

 

10%

10%

(n)

(978)

(811)

(804)

 

 

(801)

(803)

 

 

(801)

(1,012)

Poor families

  COMPARISON:

 

Benefited under Trump

Benefited under Obama

June2022

Nov.2021

July2021

April2019

April2018

 

 

Jan.

2017

July

2013

A lot

13%

22%

31%

14%

12%

 

 

39%

20%

A little

30%

38%

35%

26%

28%

 

 

36%

39%

Not at all

52%

36%

29%

51%

53%

 

 

21%

37%

(VOL) Don’t know

5%

4%

5%

9%

7%

 

 

4%

4%

(n)

(978)

(811)

(804)

 

 

(801)

(803)

 

 

(801)

(1,012)

[Q12-21 held for future release.]

[Q22-40 previously released.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 23 to 27, 2022 with a probability-based national random sample of 978 adults age 18 and older. This includes 343 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 635 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, with sample obtained from Dynata (RDD, n=565), Aristotle (list, n=168) and a panel of prior Monmouth poll participants (n=245). Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

Self-Reported

26% Republican

43% Independent

31% Democrat

 

49% Male

51% Female

 

30% 18-34

33% 35-54

37% 55+

 

63% White

12% Black

16% Hispanic

  9% Asian/Other

 

69% No degree

31% 4 year degree

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe(+/-)

TOTAL

 

978

3.1%

REGISTERED VOTER

Yes

910

3.3%

No

68

11.9%

SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID

Republican

249

6.2%

Independent

414

4.8%

Democrat

306

5.6%

IDEOLOGY

Liberal

262

6.1%

Moderate

348

5.3%

Conservative

337

5.3%

GENDER

Male

482

4.5%

Female

496

4.4%

AGE

18-34

187

7.2%

35-54

351

5.2%

55+

437

4.7%

CHILDREN IN HOME

Yes

258

6.1%

No

719

3.7%

RACE

White, non-Hispanic

698

3.7%

Other

249

6.2%

COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

435

4.7%

4 year degree

540

4.2%

WHITE COLLEGE

White, no degree

307

5.6%

White, 4 year degree

391

5.0%

INCOME

<$50K

260

6.1%

$50 to <$100K

274

5.9%

$100K+

378

5.1%

Crosstabs may be found in the PDF file on the report webpage:  https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_US_070522/

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