AP-NORC poll: Inflation up and virus down are the top priorities in the US

WASHINGTON (AP), -- As we head into a crucial midterm election year the top political concerns of Americans shift in ways that suggest Democrats will face significant challenges maintaining control of Congress.

AP-NORC poll: Inflation up and virus down are the top priorities in the US


According to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, Americans are beginning to forget about the management of the pandemic. This was once a topic that strongly favored President Joe Biden, and his fellow Democrats. COVID-19 is becoming more obscured by worries about the economy and personal finance -- especially inflation -- topics that could help Republicans.

Only 37% of Americans identify the virus among their top five priorities in 2022. This compares to 53% who stated it was a major priority a year ago. In the open-ended survey, 68% of respondents mentioned the pandemic in some way as a top concern in 2022. Similar percentages said the same thing last year. However, inflation mentions are now much higher: 14%, compared to less than 1% last.

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The consumer prices rose 6.8% in the 12 months ended November, which is nearly four decades high. The cost of living is a priority for nearly twice as many Americans than it was last year (24% vs. 12%)

The poll was taken in December when fears about the virus were growing. However, this was before the virus sparked record cases, overtook hospitals and testing centers, and disrupted holiday travel. Many participants, including Democrats, said that these developments did not change their opinions in follow-up interviews.

"If we say something along the lines: 'Let’s wait until the pandemic is over,' well, this son-of-a-gun virus has unlimited potential to mutate," Mary Small, a 65 year-old pharmacist research contractor from Downingtown, Pennsylvania said. She hopes that efforts to promote gun safety will be a focal point in the November elections, which include her state's race to fill the open Senate seat. "We may never be done with these."

This sentiment is representative of the challenges faced by Democrats at the start of the election year. With pledges to handle the pandemic better than Trump's administration, the party won control of Congress and the White House in 2020. Biden's pandemic handling from February to July was praised by 70% of voters. However, the virus has remained persistent and is now a problem for the president.

Officials from the Administration acknowledge that COVID-19 is becoming increasingly unappetizing to the public.

In an interview, Surgeon General Vivek Muthy stated that pandemic fatigue is real and everyone feels it at one point or another. As a doctor, I have seen this with many of my patients over the years. It can be difficult to get involved when you are tired or downed by a health issue, whether it is a personal problem or a larger public health issue.

According to the White House, COVID-19's decline as a major concern is actually a sign of its success in implementing preventative measures including vaccines. The White House argues that the economic jitters caused by the pandemic will eventually ease.

However, Democrats are likely to struggle to campaign on the notion that they have now defeated the virus. The other issues that are gaining attention from voters present more immediate political problems.

Judy Kunzman says Biden is not to blame for the continuing pandemic. She calls it "just one event that is impossible to predict and almost equally impossible to fix." However, she is concerned about supply chain disruptions that will continue to affect many of the other issues we are facing, such as the rising prices of food. The fact that I cannot buy my new car.

Kunzman, 75 years old, from Middletown, Pennsylvania said that "Everything has chips" and that the chips aren’t there. Kunzman was referring to a global shortage of microchips, which many electronic devices depend on. She waited for months for the car she wanted and pointed out that her sister had difficulty finding a new phone.

Adam Brandon, president and founder of FreedomWorks, stated that the government's response to the virus attack was not the victory Democrats expected. "We'll have another virus wave next year and I don't believe anyone will care. It's going to come to a point when everyone will have to accept it. As people lose interest, this will end with a whimper."

The survey found that many respondents said they don't think the country should ignore the pandemic. However, the survey found that a higher number of respondents cited other issues such as immigration and gun control for 2022, compared to last year. Some people were encouraged by early signs that the new outbreak could have less severe effects, even though it was spreading quickly.

Samantha Flowers, a 33 year-old teacher at a Columbia community college, said that she is hopeful about omicron. Missouri has its own open Senate seat, which will be up for election on November. "Even though there are more people getting it, it hasn't been as severe for most people. We're all going be sick eventually, so let us make it a better experience.

Dorrie Keough, Garrettsville, Ohio said that she has been vaccinated against COVID-19, and received a booster shot. However, she is staying at home due to omicron.

Keough, 68, said that "whoever's not in control is going to spin the story in such a manner to make it seem worse than it actually might be." This year, Keough also holds an open Senate seat in his state. "As much as I read -- and as much as I investigate -- it's really hard for me to discern what is actually happening from what people are saying."

Adam Green, cofounder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, stated that Democrats' success in 2022 is dependent on easing COVID-19 concerns and delivering concrete policy results. This includes the passage of Biden's "Build back Better" bill, a massive social spending bill, which remains stuck in the Senate.

Green stated, "I don’t think we’re going to win an electoral election for lack of anxiousness," "if we have achieved nothing else."