Trump wins voters on inflation as Biden zeroes in on tariffs, jobs: NBC News poll

Joe Biden and Donald Trump 2024.

Brendan Smialowski | Jon Cherry | Getty Images

More voters trust Donald Trump than President Joe Biden to deal with inflation and the cost of living, their top concerns for the U.S., according to the latest NBC News poll.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters nationwide found that 52% of respondents said Trump would better handle inflation and the cost of living, while 30% said the same of Biden.

The survey was taken from April 12 to 16, several days after the release of another hotter-than-expected inflation report, indicating consumer prices gradually ticking back up. Trump attacked Biden’s economic policies immediately following the release of the data.

As consumer prices heat up again, the Biden administration has kept its message on inflation the same and turned more of its attention to other aspects of the economy: jobs, tariffs and taxes.

Biden’s heavy focus on those issues was evident as he made the rounds in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania last week.

During a Wednesday speech in Pittsburgh, Biden announced that he would support tripling tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports, escalating his growing economic hawkishness toward China.

And a day before in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden focused on the tax code and jobs: “There are only two presidents on record in all of American history that left office with fewer jobs than when they entered office: Herbert Hoover and, yes, Donald ‘Herbert Hoover’ Trump.”

These speeches come after months of Biden hammering the argument that businesses are to blame for stubborn high prices and sticky inflation, accusing companies of price gouging and “shrinkflation,” the practice of selling less quantity of goods for the same price.

However, as consumer prices wobble, Biden’s recent remarks indicate an effort to bring other economic issues and data to the forefront of voters’ minds.

For example, while Trump lambasts Biden’s economy, the president has doubled down on the claim that the U.S. “has the best economy in the world.” In fact, the U.S. does lead developed economies on topline metrics like gross domestic product and unemployment.

But voters are not so easily distracted from their feelings about inflation and the cost of living.

Only 11% of respondents named “jobs and the economy” as the most critical issues facing the country heading into the November election. Meanwhile, 23% of respondents, the largest share, said inflation and the cost of living were their number one issues — both of which a majority said Trump would manage better.

Overall, the NBC poll found that Biden appears to be catching up to Trump’s lead, echoing a similar result from a New York Times/Siena College poll earlier this month. The NBC survey found that Trump led Biden by two points in a head-to-head matchup, which was lower than his five-point lead in January. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.10%.

But voters’ rosy memory of the Trump economy has been a consistent thread in early polling and continues to weigh on Biden’s momentum. Despite Biden’s efforts to refocus the conversation on other economic issues, inflation appears to remain an unavoidable barrier to winning over the public’s trust.

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