Swing-State Residents Lead Misery Index as 2024 Election Ignites

(Bloomberg) -- The seven swing states most likely to decide the 2024 presidential election have been facing more economic misery than the rest of the US, adding an obstacle to President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

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The Bloomberg Economics Misery II index — an analysis of cumulative inflation rates over four years, plus the latest unemployment rate — illustrates how differing economic conditions across the US can impact the electoral vote.

The index is higher in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than in those that reliably vote either Republican or Democratic in presidential elections.

That difference may help explain why polls show Biden further behind in the battleground states than he is nationally as voters have been slow to give him credit for an improving economy.

The Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll of the same seven states shows Biden trailing former President Donald Trump by an average of 6 percentage points, while national polls from the same pollster over the same period show him trailing by half that.

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The Misery II index gives additional weight to inflation than the traditional misery index, a Jimmy Carter-era measure that used just one year of the consumer price index.

Inflation has been particularly problematic for Biden, as voters continue to cite rising costs as a top concern even as the annual inflation gauge has dropped to 3.1% from its peak of about 9% in June 2022. An Economist/YouGov poll shows Americans identify prices of goods and services as the best measure of the national economy.

Bloomberg Economics Says:

There also are lots of different ways voters might think about the economy. Biden’s team doubtlessly is hoping a soft landing will help voters forget about the surge in costs for their weekly shopping.

Our suspicion, though, is that voters have long memories on inflation. If that’s right, our Misery II index should be a good guide to how economic conditions will shape the vote.

— Stuart Paul, US Economist

The index climbed amid the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of Trump’s presidency.

Over the past 60 years, the national Misery II index has averaged 17.95% in election years when the incumbent party retained the presidency. It’s now just over 23%.

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