Nearly 70% of People Are Worried About a Recession in the Next Year [Election Survey]

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Ahead of November’s presidential election, FinanceBuzz surveyed U.S. adults to see what their biggest financial worries are, how their household is doing compared to the last election, and more.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Now that 2024 has arrived, we are only months away from the presidential election. The election results will impact things like taxes and federal legislation for the next four years, which will affect American households’ financial bottom line as well.

Ahead of this year’s election season, we asked 1,000 U.S. adults how things have changed for them financially since President Biden’s 2021 inauguration, including how they feel about their financial futures, and other election-related questions.

In these election survey results

Key findings

  • Inflation is the biggest financial worry among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
  • Nearly 70% of people are concerned about the potential for a recession in the next year.
  • Less than 40% of people feel their household is better off financially today compared to three years ago.
  • Slightly more than 45% of both Democrats and Republicans are putting off a major financial decision until after the election.

How we're doing today versus three years ago

Opinions are split about financial fortunes from 2021 (when Joe Biden first took office) until now.


37% of people say their household is better off now than they were three years ago, while a slightly higher percentage (41%) say they’re worse off. A little more than one out of every five people (22%) say they are about the same.

All told, that means the majority of people (63%) feel their financial fortunes haven’t improved since 2021.

Looking ahead: How we feel about the future

While less than 40% of people report that the recent past has been beneficial for their family’s finances, most people are optimistic about their financial futures — no matter how they identify politically.


Democrats are the most optimistic for their financial futures, with 63% of people who identify as Democrats saying they are somewhat, or very, optimistic about their finances in the future. Just 19% of Democrats say they are somewhat or very pessimistic.

Independent voters and Republicans are not quite as cheery when thinking about the future, but around half of both groups say they are somewhat or very optimistic about their family’s financial future. Alternatively, a little less than 30% of both groups say they are somewhat, or very, pessimistic about their financial futures.

Recession worries

One reason voters may be worried about their finances going forward is the threat of a recession, which some experts have thought may be on the horizon for months now.


The majority of people, regardless of their political party, fear a recession sometime in the next year. 69% of the population share that worry, though Republican voters are the most concerned. Four-fifths (82%) of the GOP are worried about a recession, while around two-thirds of Independents (68%) and Democrats (63%) are similarly concerned.

Biggest financial worries by political party

While a recession is a major worry for people of all political stripes, it is not the number one financial concern for Republicans, Democrats, or Independents.


Instead, inflation is the most pressing financial issue for all three groups. 71% of Republicans, 58% of Independents, and 57% of Democrats listed inflation as one of their three biggest financial concerns ahead of the election. No other issue was named a top concern by even a third of people, no matter how they vote.

While inflation is what people are most unified on, there were plenty of other areas of overlap when looking at the top five financial concerns for each group of voters. In addition to inflation, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all ranked a potential recession and housing costs among their top five concerns. Republicans and Independents are stressed about whether they have enough money to cover an emergency expense, while Democrats and Independents are concerned about healthcare costs.

The only top financial concern that is unique to Republicans is taxes, while Democrats are the only group to name interest rates on loans as a top-five financial worry. Every single top financial worry of Independents was shared by at least one of the other two groups.

How the presidential election impacts financial decision-making

Knowing what kinds of money issues are weighing on the minds of different groups of voters as they head to the polls, we also wanted to see how much of an impact those groups think that the President can have on their household’s fortunes.


Republicans are most likely to say that who the President is affects their bottom line in a major way. More than one-third of Republicans (35%) say that the President has a significant impact on their household finances, while just about a quarter of Democrats and Independents feel the same way.


Despite differing opinions on how much the President influences someone’s finances, around half of Democrats (47%) and Republicans (46%) say they are waiting until after the election to make any big financial decisions.

Advice from our expert

While our study gave good insight into voters’ feelings going into this election, we also had our own questions about the influence of various economic factors on voter turnout. To find out, we asked an expert to weigh in.

Darren W. Davis

Snyder Family Mission Endowed Professor of Political Science – Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Does the state of the economy impact voter participation at all? For example, a recession pushing people to the polls to vote in hopes of changing things for the better?

The state of the national economy is usually a major factor influencing voter choice. Voters normally look at the functioning of the national economy, including inflation, gas prices, interest rates, and taxes. Recessions are important too, but there are a variety of ways voters gauge the economic health of the country.

What are steps people can take to take control of their finances no matter who is in office?

I’m not sure there is a way, or if this is important to voters. Voters generally do not attribute fluctuations in their personal finances to national politics. Few voters connect fluctuations in their personal finances to national politics, such as the timing of government checks, but the vast majority of voters do not make such a connection.

How true do you believe the sentiment of "voting with your wallet" stands to be? Are Americans' votes more likely to be swayed by economic/personal finance factors than by others?

The national economy is extremely important, and it has always been a significant predictor in how people vote. But, the national economy is one issue among many issues that determine how people vote. I expect issues like immigration, “wokeness,” political polarization, and culture war issues to be prominent in the 2024 election. Again, personal finances do not usually play a significant role.


These answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Tips for managing your finances, regardless of who’s in office

  • Save for retirement as soon as possible. Saving for retirement is a huge part of making sure you have what you need in the future. When you start early, you have more time for investments to pay off. But every bit you can save can be helpful, even if you’re getting off to a late start.
  • Make your money work for you. Investing money can be a good way to make your money work for you and build wealth for your future. Our guide to the best investment apps can help you get started.
  • Budget your money. When money is tight, budgeting is the most helpful strategy. Here are some of the best budgeting apps.

Methodology

FinanceBuzz surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 or older using a survey platform. Respondents were asked to self-identify the political party they most closely identify with. 27% of respondents identified as Republicans, 31% as Independents, and 37% as Democrats.

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Author Details

Josh Koebert Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.

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