Practitioner Memo: The “Bad Vibes” Economy

Why we did this research

Change Research polled 1,534 registered voters nationwide from February 6-8, 2024 to gauge public opinion on the state of the economy today. We sought to disentangle bad trends from bad vibes and to assess voters’ economic priorities and perceptions of which parties value those priorities. This memo offers guidance on how to contextualize, interpret, and respond to voters’ economic anxieties and priorities ahead of the 2024 presidential election. 

Findings Overview 

First, some level setting about the importance of the economy in 2024. Looking at Pew Center data from the past 5 presidential contests (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020) it’s evident that the economy has topped the list of important issues for voters during every election. While the specific economic concerns may change (inflation in 2024, recovery from the Great Recession in 2012), we should bear in mind that economic concerns are always of paramount importance—this is a stable feature of issue polling every cycle. Furthermore, the other top issues in these prior presidential cycles were hugely impactful to the outcomes of those elections. Trump successfully weaponized terrorism and immigration in 2016, and Biden successfully persuaded voters in 2020 that he would do more to protect healthcare and shepherd the country through the COVID pandemic. What is currently occupying voters’ minds besides the economy these days? Illegal immigration and border security. In fact, our polling finds this is actually the top issue overall (37% selected) at this moment in time. We break down the relationship between immigration and the economy in the attached memo.