Thursday’s inflation numbers said consumer prices rose faster than expected in September and the inflation rate remained near 40-year highs, likely cementing voters’ concerns about the state of the economy when they head to the polls in November.
It was the last report on consumer inflation voters will see before they go to the polls on Nov. 8, and election watchers said inflation appears likely to be a big issue for voters, even as other issues such as abortion and democracy compete for their attention.
“It̵[ads1]7;s the kind of thing that affects everyone at every level of our social status and economic status,” Matt Germer, a citizen-choice fellow for the libertarian R Street Institute, told Fox News Digital.
“We buy all the groceries, we buy gas, we pay our utility bills. And when they go up month after month, it puts budgets under pressure. And that’s the kind of thing that motivates people in November.”
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The Labor Department said on Thursday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of groceries, including gasoline, groceries and rent, rose 0.4 percent in September from the previous month. Prices rose 8.2% on an annual basis.
These figures were both higher than the 8.1% headline figure and 0.2% monthly increase that had been projected by Refinitiv economists. In an even more worrying development that suggests underlying inflationary pressures in the economy remain strong, core prices, which strip out the more volatile measures of food and energy, rose 0.6% in September from the previous month. From the same time last year, core prices rose by 6.6%, the fastest since 1982.
Republicans have been attacking Democrats on the issue since last year and appear poised to continue hammering their opponents on that issue until Election Day.
“Every American is dealing with the out-of-control price increases caused by Democrats’ reckless spending. That’s why poll after poll shows inflation is the No. 1 issue heading into the midterms.” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg told Fox News Digital.
Democrats claim they have moved major pieces of legislation aimed at cutting inflation, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, though Republicans dispute the claim that it will actually lower inflation.
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“The only party with an actual economic plan is the Democratic Party,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tommy Garcia told Fox News Digital. “We’re going to spend every day left in this campaign reminding voters that despite Republican obstruction, Democrats have taken bold steps to lower costs, put millions of Americans to work, and protect Americans’ reproductive freedoms.”
Inflation continues to be high on voters’ minds, but other issues that may be more favorable to Democrats are registering in the latest polls.
In a Fox News poll conducted last month in Arizona, inflation tied with abortion at 17% for the third most important issue to voters. Two issues first tied for 18% – border security and preserving American democracy.
A Fox News poll in Wisconsin revealed that inflation was the second most important issue among voters in that state, at 20%. Preservation of American democracy ranked first with 24%. Abortion was reduced by 16 per cent.
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In Pennsylvania, inflation was tied at 21% for the most important issue, along with the preservation of American democracy. Abortion registered at 15%.
But Germer says that when voters go to the polls, inflation will likely be the ultimate issue driving how they cast their ballots.
“For months now, Democrats have been trying to make abortion the issue of the election cycle. And there are definitely some people out there where that’s really the motivating issue for them. But it’s not most people,” Germer said.
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“I think elections are important. I think there are some good ideas for reform,” Germer added. “I care a lot about that. But that’s not the issue that’s driving people. It’s inflation.”
FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.