Americans’ views of the economy continue to improve, according to a Pew Research survey, with 53% now saying national economic conditions are “excellent or good,” a post-recession high. The increasingly positive outlook has been driven by Republicans. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said the economy was excellent or good in October. Today that number is 74%. Only 37% of Democrats believe the economy is in excellent or good shape today.
The numbers are slightly different when discussing Americans’ personal financial situations. Sixty-two percent of Republicans say their personal financial situation is in excellent or good shape, while 44% of Democrats say the same. What factors do Americans believe affect their household situations? Fifty-three percent of Americans (48% of Republicans and 57% of Democrats) say health care costs “affect their household’s financial situation a lot;” 48% say it is food and consumer goods prices; 37% say real estate values; 34% say job availability; 22% say it is the federal budget deficit; and just 21% say the stock market.
Clearly “kitchen table issues” like health care costs and food prices are the main drivers of opinions about personal economic situation, instead of macro issues like the stock market or budget deficits. Positive economic sentiment alone will not be enough to lift candidates to victory this November. They must pay attention to “kitchen table issues” in their campaigns to reassure voters they understand, care, and have plans that will improve conditions for families.