New poll shows Americans’ views on economy heading into midterms

A PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll out Thursday is providing a new snapshot of how Americans view the economy, abortion and former President Trump ahead of November's midterm elections. Lisa Desjardins breaks down the numbers.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll is out today providing a new snapshot on how Americans view the economy and the upcoming midterm elections, now just 61 days away.

    Lisa Desjardins is here to break down the numbers.

    Hello, Lisa.

    So, first of all, what are Americans saying about how they see the economy?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    One thing you will see with all these numbers, some questions matter more than others right now.

    We started with a simple one to gauge what people think about the economy. Is the U.S. in a recession now? Here is what we got from respondents of all ages, genders, parties; 62 percent of Americans believe we are in a recession right now.

    As we know, as our viewers know, that is a debate among economists. But it is a sign that Americans think there is a major problem with the economy. One other note too, a majority — a majority of people also for the first time believe that the Biden presidency has weakened the economy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Huh. Interesting.

    And so where — when you compare the economy to other issues like abortion, what are people saying? And is it clear what the implications are going to be for the midterms?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This is where we get to, what is important to voters right now, not just what they think, but what do they care about the most?

    So let's take a look at that question we keep asking. What issues are top of mind in — right now? Now, look at these two key issues, inflation and abortion. On the left there, you see where people were in July; 37 percent of people said inflation is top of mind, just 18 percent on abortion. Look at how that has changed just in six weeks.

    The gap between those two issues in terms of importance has gone down by more than half. And no surprise that there's some partisan differences there. More Republicans care about inflation. More Democrats and now more independents are starting to care about abortion as an issue.

    One thing I noticed in particular about these issue preferences, a key group that we will watch for the — especially control of the House, suburban voters. That's where a lot of these midterm swing races will happen. Look at these suburban voters. We asked for the top issues. Men in suburbs, 40 percent of them, their top issue, they said, was inflation.

    Women — again, this is both parties — 35 percent said abortion. This is not about parties. This is about a gender split over key issues. And, Judy, we know Democrats really are counting hang on suburban women to come out for them.

    Well, how are Democrats doing and just a head-to-head fight right now? Let's take a quick look. Who would you vote for Congress right now? Virtual tie. That's within the margin of era.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And in a year, the first year, first midterm after election — a president is elected, that's striking.

    All right, we know former President Trump not on the ballot this year, but what are people saying about him, about all these investigations in the news every day and whether they want him to run again?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    He's not on the ballot, but we have seen him be such a force and how Republicans think. So many Republican voters are loyal to him.

    So we wanted to ask voters of all walks of life what they thought about President Trump, whether he would run, as he's intimating he may do. So, here's the question: Should President Trump run in 2024?

    Let's look at this partisan breakdown. Not a shock. Mostly, it's Republicans who want him to run, but it's still two-thirds of Republicans who want him to run. And then independents, a third. Very few Democrats, of course, 9 percent, want the former Republican president to run.

    But here's what we did, Judy. We also asked, what would happen if President Trump is charged with a crime? We asked Republican — Republicans in particular we wanted to look at, because, of course, they will nominate their nominee for president. And, of that, you see the number does go down, but not by much, to just 61 percent.

    Even if he is charged with a crime, former President Trump has the support of 61 percent of Republicans. This tells us that something he said earlier, he wants bragged about, even if I shot someone in New York City, I would still have my voters. And 61 percent of them say, yes, if you were charged with a crime, I'd still support you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, some slippage, but very slight slippage among Republicans.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Correct.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    They are remaining loyal.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, we thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And a reminder that you can read more of the takeaways from our poll online at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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