DHM Research

Inflation takes its toll on Washingtonians

If you feel like your dollar isn’t going as far as it did last year, you aren’t alone. The economy and inflation were top issues for many voters and will continue to impact spending into 2023. From November 15-20, 2022, DHM Research conducted a post-election poll of Washington voters to gauge attitudes about various public policy topics. One-month post-election we look back at the results to examine what happened and what might lie ahead.

79% of Washingtonians said that inflation has impacted their day-to-day spending.

People with children, those with the lowest incomes, and people living in Eastern Washington are feeling inflation’s impact the most. 88% of people with children under 18 living at home have had their day-to-day spending impacted, as have 86% of those in Eastern Washington and 84% of those with incomes under $50,000. On the other hand, some groups are feeling inflation’s impact on spending less than others: King County residents (72%), folks over age 65 (72%), those making over $150,000 (63%), and those with a four-year college degree (63%) were less likely to indicate that inflation had impacted their day-to-day spending compared to the Washington average. There were also partisan differences when asked how much inflation impacted spending; 89% of Republicans reported that inflation has at least somewhat impacted their day-to-day spending compared to only 76% of Democrats and Non-affiliated voters.

Chart of data showing percent indicating that inflation has impacted their day-to-day spending​

Economy was the top issue for the most Washington voters, but not the issue that defined the 2022 election.

1 in 4 voters indicated the economy was their most important issue when choosing who to vote for in federal and state races. 25% responded that inflation/the economy most impacted their vote finishing ahead of other top issues: reproductive rights (20%) and threats to democracy (16%).

Chart of data showing top issue impacting your vote for U.S. Senator​

However, the relative importance of top issues differed significantly by political party. Republicans were much more likely to indicate that the economy was their top issue (42%) while Democrats were more focused on reproductive rights (37%) and threats to democracy (24%) as top issues (61% combined). Given that Democrats won most of the competitive races at the state and federal level in Washington, it appears that concerns about the economy were not widespread enough to drive Republican victories. The combination of reproductive rights and threats to democracy were more impactful than the economy on election night.

Despite worries about the economy, 59% still think it is a good time to find a quality job in Washington.

This alone isn’t a huge surprise. Many economists suggest that inflation and unemployment have an inverse relationship; when one goes up the other goes down. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment has fallen, and inflation has increased. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington’s unemployment rate currently sits at a low 3.8%. However, confidence about finding a quality job has changed over the course of 2022. In September, 68% thought it was a good time to find a quality job. This 9% drop in confidence about finding a quality job in Washington is an indicator to keep an eye on in 2023 as state and federal policy makers continue to address inflation in the aftermath of the pandemic.