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New poll finds deep economic pessimism ahead of midterms

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks Wednesday in Washington. Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... British PM Truss resigns after disastrous start in office. ... President Biden heads to Pittsburgh to talk infrastructure and then goes to Philadelphia to raise money for Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman. ... A Federal judge says Donald Trump knew his 2020 fraud allegations were false. … Fetterman releases new letter from doctor. ... Meet the Press Now  speaks with undecided voters in Georgia. ... And early voting begins in North Carolina.

But first: Yes, high gas prices have been a problem for President Biden and Democratic candidates. 

Yet it’s not the only economic problem they face — far from it. 

A new CNBC poll, conducted by the same team behind the NBC News survey, finds just 16% of voters believing the economy is either “excellent” or “good,” while 49% call it “poor” (and another 34% say it’s “only fair”).

A plurality of voters — 45% — say they economy will get worse over the next year, versus 25% who say it will get better and 23% who say it will stay the same. 

And then there’s this: 59% of voters expect there will be a recession over the next 12 months. 

Outside of those poll numbers, economist Diane Swonk points out that rising mortgage interest rates, now approaching 7%, have resulted in a “housing market recession” — which she says will only get worse as the Federal Reserve continues to increase interest rates. 

Yes, Americans are sour on the economy due to gas prices, and that has helped shape much of the 2022 economic landscape. 

But the Fed’s rising interest rates have also played an important role — weakening the housing market, reducing business investment and forcing Americans to brace for a recession in the year ahead. 

And there’s no relief in sight from those rising interest rates. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … $7 billion

That’s how much money OpenSecrets estimates will be raised at the state-level for candidates, party committees and ballot measure committees in this year’s midterm election cycle, per new estimates released Wednesday. Republicans have a slight edge, with GOP candidates and party committees projected to spend $3 million and Democratic candidates and committees expected to spend $2.7 billion.

OpenSecrets also tracked a surge in fundraising for Secretary of State candidates, with Democratic candidates raising $27.3 million to Republican candidates’ $22.2 million.

“Republicans and Democrats are engaged in an intensifying money race with polarization bringing more money than ever into our elections,” said OpenSecrets Executive Director Sheila Krumholz. “State-level candidates vying to oversee future elections are seeing an especially noteworthy surge in funding, highlighting the public’s concern with election integrity.”

Other numbers to know:

60%: The share of Americans in a new Monmouth University poll who say former President Donald Trump should testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. 

1 in 3: The share of Americans who believe the 2022 midterms will be largely free of voter/election fraud, per a new LX News/YouGov poll

8: How many states Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is visiting during the last two weekends before Election Day, with plans to hold at least 19 events, per the New York Times. 

Nearly 20%: How much of the third quarter haul for Trump’s joint fundraising committee was raised in the week after the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, per a Politico analysis. 

10: How many counties of Nevada’s 17 that have had top election officials resign or retire (including those not running for another term), per a Reuters special report

80%: That’s the share of American voters who believe military families face some kind of economic insecurity, according to an Embold Research poll for Merit, a tech company. 

Midterm roundup: Fetterman’s doctor’s note

Less than a week before his high-profile Senate debate against Republican Mehmet Oz, Democrat John Fetterman released a note from his primary care physician amid calls for more transparency after his stroke earlier this year. 

In it, Fetterman’s doctor says he is “recovering well from his stroke,” that his “speech was normal and he continues to exhibit symptoms of an auditory processing disorder which can come across as hearing difficulty” and “he has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”

Meanwhile, both candidates dropped new ads on Wednesday. Fetterman’s new spot is a fundraising plea that frames the race as lynchpin to both abortion rights and democracy, while Oz’s is focused on the economy and inflation, arguing Fetterman “would make it worse.” 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail: 

Georgia Senate: Women Speak Out PAC, a super PAC tied to the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony list, placed its first ad buy of the race, spending $350,000 on broadcast per AdImpact. The group is standing by Republican Herschel Walkerafter allegations that he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion (which he denies). 

North Carolina Senate: GOP Rep. Ted Budd is emphasizing crime and the economy, while Democrat Cheri Beasley is focusing on abortion and Budd’s voting record in the final stretch of this consistently close Senate race, Roll Call reports. 

Ohio Senate: Republican J.D. Vance, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Save America Fund, a group backing Ryan, all made additional ad buys on Wednesday, per AdImpact. But Ryan criticized the party’s tepid spending in his race, telling the Washington Post that  “national Democrats have been known not to make very good strategic decisions over the years.”

Politico reports that Vance is calling on Republicans to “have a fight over the border wall,” and tell Biden, “You don’t get another dime for your priorities unless you do your job and enforce and secure the Southern border.” 

Arizona Governor: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigned with Republican Kari Lake on Wednesday, where one supporter yelled, “Youngkin-Lake in ‘24!,” per NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard. The Democratic nominee, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, conducted an interview with Arizona PBS after declining to debate Lake, and she avoided other reporters at the interview, per the Arizona Republic.

Kansas Governor: The New York Times explores how Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s re-election race “is testing how much protection a strong local, personal brand still affords in governor’s races against gale-force political headwinds.”

Oregon Governor: Semafor travels to Oregon to look at why Republicans are bullish on flipping the governor’s seat as well as up to three congressional seats. Meanwhile, AFL–CIO President Liz Shuler heads to the state this week to help boost Democratic gubernatorial nominee TIna Kotek and OR-4 Democratic nominee Val Hoyle. 

New York Governor: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul placed another $2.6 million in TV ads between now and Election Day, per AdImpact. 

Wisconsin Govenor: NBC News’ Adam Edelman unpacks how GOP nominee Tim Michels has shifted his position on abortion. 

Arizona-02: The DCCC is dropping about $680,000 to boost Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran, per AdImpact, as the Democrat tries to survive a tough re-election fight. 

Rhode Island-02: The NRCC is going up with its first ad buy to boost Republican Allan Fung, per AdImpact. It’s about $800,000 so far. 

Ad watch: Focusing on election administrators

SAFE Accessible and Fair Elections — a group backed by the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS) — is out with a new ad in Minnesota, backing incumbent Democrat Steve Simon over his Republican opponent, Kim Crockett.

“For Steve Simon, the right to vote is personal. When he saw his father with Parkinson’s struggle to stay in line to cast a ballot, he wrote the law making it more convenient to vote from home,” a narrator in the ad says.

“But his opponent, Kim Crockett, wants to make it harder to vote,” the narrator adds.

SAFE Accessible and Fair Elections has already spent over $1.2 million in this race, and it’s expected to spend up to $2.2 million total before Election Day, according to AdImpact. They’ve also spent in the Nevada Secretary of State’s race, investing over $2.8 million there to back Democrat Cisco Aguilar over Republican Jim Marchant. Both Marchant and Crockett have previously questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Big firms like Microsoft and Apple are running a new ad campaign to protect ‘Dreamers.’

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained text-messages from then-Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s phone ahead of Jan. 6, 2021, including one from the secretary of state’s wife criticizing her for her calls for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign.