University of Denver political scientist Seth Masket studied 18 midterm elections starting in 1950. In 15 of these midterms, real incomes were increasing. Only three midterms – those in 1954, 1958, and 1974 – featured negative real income growth in the months leading up to the election. The incumbent party fared poorly in all of them.
Even though previous midterms in a negative income growth environment took place during a recession, Masket says 2022’s positive GDP numbers aren’t much consolation for Democrats.
“Large majorities of poll respondents have been saying they think the economy is in bad shape and that Biden hasn’t been handling it well,” Vox reports. “Biden’s approval rating started declining more rapidly in the second half of last year, as inflation began really picking up, and it’s currently around 41 percent.”