A new Spectrum News 1/IPSOS poll found that inflation is the top concern for registered voters in North Carolina, followed by affordable housing.
Inflation hit a 40-year high in the United States last month, with the consumer price index jumping 8.5% in March more than a year ago. Gasoline, rent and food prices continued to rise.
The new poll found that 65% of registered voters in North Carolina had to cut spending due to rising prices.
President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have visited North Carolina in recent weeks and both discussed rising prices for Americans. The federal government’s role in inflation will be a big topic of debate this year as candidates vie for North Carolina’s open seat in the US Senate and 14 seats in the House.
The new poll shows inflation has replaced the COVID-19 pandemic as the top issue facing North Carolina. A majority of voters, 54%, said rising costs are the biggest issue, followed by affordable housing, which was cited by 30% of registered voters.
Just 10% of registered voters still said COVID-19 was the biggest issue facing North Carolina, when given a list of 15 issues to choose from in the poll.
The poll, released Monday, polled 1,158 registered voters in North Carolina between March 31 and April 12. It has a margin of error of 4.2%. It included questions about the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, education and inflation.
Democrats and Republicans have cited inflation as their top concern, but Republicans are more focused on inflation than other issues. Two-thirds of Republicans said inflation was the biggest problem facing North Carolina, compared to 44% of Democrats.
When asked what the top priorities of the next North Carolina senator should be, 42% said prices are rising. Survey respondents were asked to name up to two issues they hope the next state senator should address in Washington D.C.
The United States economy comes second with 19%, followed by health care, education and employment. Only 11% said election integrity, and the same number said voting rights, which had been hot issues, at least for elected congressmen.
With more attention on inflation and rising prices, 82% of survey respondents said they were spending more on gasoline than before.
The poll found that people are preparing for prices at the pump to remain high, with 35% saying they expect prices to continue to rise. Another 31% said they thought prices would stay at their current level.
A minority of voters registered in the poll, 22%, said they believed prices would drop back to where they were before the war in Ukraine began.
When asked how their spending habits have changed, 73% say they are spending more on groceries than before. When it comes to housing, where prices take longer to rise, 38% said they were spending more and 49% said spending stayed about the same.
With the rising prices of everyday goods, many people have chosen to cut back on expenses like vacations and entertainment. In the survey, 29% said they were spending less on entertainment, such as going to movies and concerts, and taking vacations. Twenty-eight percent said they spent about the same amount and 22% said they spent more.
When asked who or what was responsible for the price hike, the results were mixed. For gas prices, 34% said President Biden was responsible and 30% cited the war in Ukraine.
For rising prescription drug prices, 32% blamed businesses and corporations, while 19% blamed the president.
On food prices, 41% blamed “supply chain issues” and 24% said Biden was responsible.
For rising housing costs, 22% blamed businesses and corporations, 21% said the president was most responsible, and 15% said the COVID-19 pandemic was responsible.
Inflation shows no signs of slowing down. If prices continue to rise through the summer, inflation could be a key issue during the midterm elections in November.
The poll shows that the attention of registered voters in North Carolina has shifted from COVID-19 to inflation, housing prices and other national economic issues. The question for voters will be which party and which candidates do they think can help bring down inflation and continue to rebuild the economy after the pandemic.