Inflation is top of mind for Wisconsin voters as the midterm elections approach – Sheboygan Press

The budgeting app Tracy Shilobrit uses to keep track of personal expenses has been sending notifications warning her about going over budget on things like gas and groceries.
“The grocery store still shocks me every time I check out when I see how expensive everything is,” said Shilobrit, of Waukesha.
Not surprisingly, 75% of Wisconsin residents say inflation is a very concerning issue in the state, new statewide polling has found.
While gas prices are going down from record-high levels in June, Wisconsinites are still worried about the effect inflation is having on their budgets, including higher prices at grocery stores.
More: Inflation, democracy, climate change are among the issues worrying Wisconsin. We’re hosting events across the state to talk about it.
More: Here’s how to sign up for our free town hall meetings to discuss what the candidates should be talking about in advance of the midterms
Ozaukee County resident Janel Benedum said she and her husband have well-paying government jobs, but they have struggled with their budgets this year as the price of goods increased.
Benedum is also a caregiver for her parents and in-laws, but because her parents are on a fixed income, she has had to dip into her own funds to help them as costs have risen. 
“We started to become short (on our budget) as we are trying to make sure that our families are receiving the care and basic necessities that they need,” she said.
When prices began rising last year, the Marquette University Law School survey began asking residents about inflation. Its most recent poll conducted in mid-June surveyed 803 registered Wisconsin voters, where 75% said they were “very concerned” with inflation and only 5% were not too concerned or not at all concerned.
And worries of inflation have been rising over the last year.
Last August, the poll found less than half of voters said inflation was very concerning, while 14% said the issue wasn’t concerning.  
In October, 64% of respondents said they were very concerned with inflation, with that number bumping up to 69% in April.
Inflation ranked as the top concern in Marquette’s most recent poll — ahead of abortion policy, gun violence, health care and the coronavirus.
While a majority of Wisconsin voters find inflation very concerning, Republicans are far more concerned with the issue than Democrats.
Ninety-two percent of Republicans find inflation very concerning, while only 59% of Democrats say the same.
The non-scientific survey the Ideas Lab has been conducting as part of its Main Street Agenda project has spotted a similar partisan breakdown, with Republicans far more likely to rank inflation and the state of the economy as their top concern heading into this fall’s midterm elections. The project is a collaboration between the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Radio and the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
With inflation on the forefront of Wisconsinites’ minds, Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin said the issue is likely to be at the top of candidates’ campaigns.
Ahead of the Aug. 9 primary, both Republican and Democratic candidates said inflation would be among their top priorities.
Senate candidates Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are both promising tax cuts in their campaign ads as a way to combat inflation.
Barnes is promising middle-class tax cuts, while Johnson claims his small business tax cuts will help ease inflation.
In the gubernatorial race, Gov. Tony Evers released a plan to use the state’s budget surplus to deliver income tax cuts. And to combat high gas prices, Evers’ plan proposed a state gas tax holiday.
Evers’ opponent Republican Tim Michels wants to cut taxes in multiple areas, including corporate and income taxes and personal property taxes. Michels claims these tax cuts will help grow Wisconsin’s economy and keep residents in the state.
Even as candidates use the issue of inflation to gather votes, Franklin said the issue will more likely be used as a way to attack other candidates.
“Inflation will be used to blame other candidates and parties, with not many actual solutions being given,” Franklin said.
Across the country, both Republicans and Democrats are spending millions on television ads this year mentioning inflation, according to political ad tracking by AdImpact
In a campaign ad, Johnson claimed President Joe Biden and Democrats sparked inflation and caused “economic turmoil.” 
Benedum said she follows local politics closely and she’s heard candidates talk about inflation but has yet to hear solutions.
“There’s been a lot of chatter about ‘this is wrong,’ ” Benedum said. “I haven’t yet heard concrete, laid-out plans of how we’re going to do this.”
Bridgit Bowden of Wisconsin Public Radio contributed to this report. Sophia Voight can be reached at or 920-993-7102. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_voight.
The Ideas Lab at the Journal Sentinel, the La Follette School of Public Affairs and Wisconsin Public Radio will host four town hall meetings across the state to discuss concerns raised by respondents to our Main Street Agenda questionnaire. 
Here are the details:
►7 p.m., Sept. 21, Centennial Hall, Milwaukee Public Library Central Branch, 733 N. 8th St., Milwaukee. Focus: Is democracy at risk? To register, go to:
►7 p.m., Oct. 6, Ingleside Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Focus: Inflation and the state of the U.S. economy. To register, go to:
►7 p.m., Oct. 11, Brown County Public Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay. To register, go to:
►7 p.m., Nov. 1, UW Stevens Point–Wausau Campus: UW Center for Civic Engagement, 625 Stewart Ave, Wausau. To register, go to:


Leave a Comment