Thursday’s inflation numbers said consumer prices rose faster than expected in September, and the inflation rate remained near 40-year highs, likely cementing voter worries about the state of the economy as they head to the polls in November.
It was the last report on consumer inflation voters will see before they vote Nov. 8, and election watchers said inflation seems likely to be a major issue for voters, even as other issues like abortion and democracy compete for their attention.
“It’s the kind of thing that impacts everyone at every level of our social status and economic status,” Matt Germer, a resident elections fellow for the libertarian R Street Institute, told Fox News Digital.
“We all buy groceries, we buy gasoline, we pay our utility bills. And when those are going up month after month, it’s putting budgets under pressure. And that’s the kind of thing that motivates people in November.”
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The Labor Department said Thursday the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods, including gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 0.4% in September from the previous month. Prices climbed 8.2% on an annual basis.
Those figures were both higher than the 8.1% headline figure and 0.2% monthly increase forecast by Refinitiv economists. In an even more concerning development that suggests underlying inflationary pressures in the economy remain strong, core prices, which strip out the more volatile measurements of food and energy, climbed 0.6% in September from the previous month. From the same time last year, core prices jumped 6.6%, the fastest since 1982.
Republicans have been attacking Democrats on the issue since last year and appear poised to keep hammering their opponents on that issue until Election Day.
“Every American is dealing with the out-of-control price hikes caused by Democrats’ reckless spending. That’s why poll after poll shows inflation is the No. 1 issue headed into the midterms.” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg told Fox News Digital.
Democrats argue that they’ve moved major pieces of legislation aimed at cutting inflation, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, though Republicans dispute the claim 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 spokesperson 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 action to lower costs, put millions of Americans to work and protect Americans’ reproductive freedoms.”
Inflation continues to remain high in voters’ minds, but other issues that may be more favorable for Democrats are registering in recent polls.
In a Fox News Poll conducted last month in Arizona, inflation was tied with abortion at 17% for the third most important issue for voters. Two issues tied for first at 18% — border security and the preservation of American democracy.
A Fox News Poll in Wisconsin revealed that inflation was the second most important issue among voters in that state, at 20%. The preservation of American democracy ranked first at 24%. Abortion trailed at 16%.
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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 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 in the election cycle. And there are definitely some people out there where that really is the motivating issue for them. But that’s not most people,” Germer said.
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“I believe elections are important. I think there are some good ideas for reform,” Germer added. “I care very deeply about it. But that issue isn’t what’s driving people. It’s inflation.”
FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.