As Economy Shrinks, Democratic Voters Worry Biden 'Hasn't Really Delivered'

The Commerce Department on Thursday announced the United States economy contracted for the first time in almost two years. Coupled with recent polls that show voters rate President Joe Biden's performance with the economy as low, the news could further hurt the president as well as the chances of Democrats running for office in the upcoming midterm elections.

The nation's gross domestic product (GDP) declined 0.4 percent in the first quarter, or 1.4 percent on an annualized basis, according to the Commerce Department. This contrasts sharply with the final quarter of 2021 when the economy recorded a growth of 6.9 percent. The shift is jarring in an already tense time.

Biden still maintains majority support from his voting base, but Democrats have been souring on him since he took office. Many view Biden as not having delivered on enough of his campaign promises, and Senator Elizabeth Warren has been warning of Democrat losses in the midterms if the party doesn't achieve more before November.

"There is so much we can do. And if we do it over the next 200 days, we're going to be in fine shape. ... Take it to the people what we've done," Warren told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" on Sunday. "I think we're going to be in real trouble if we don't get up and deliver, then I believe that Democrats are going to lose."

In another sign that support from Biden's base is peppered with concern, Politico on Thursday reported about further misgivings during a Zoom call held by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake with a focus group of Democratic voters.

While participants in the virtual meeting viewed the president positively on a personal level, referring to him as "decent" and "unifying," they had misgivings about his work, according to Politico. The outlet said impressions given of how Biden is doing in the White House included "unrealistic" and "hasn't really delivered on his promises."

President Joe Biden
A report that the economy contracted during the first quarter of 2022 could hurt President Joe Biden's approval ratings as well as the changes of Democrats seeking office in the upcoming midterm elections. In this photo, Biden is seen speaking in the White House in Washington, DC, April 27, 2022. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

In a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday, the economy was named by Americans as "the most important problem facing the U.S. today." Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week found just 33 percent of Americans said they approved of how Biden is handling the economy. The Quinnipiac poll also found that 40 percent of voters said they approve of the overall job Biden is doing, while 51 percent disapproved.

The Commerce Department report showed slower growth in inventories, a higher trade deficit, and lower exports hurt the gross domestic product. A spike in imports also resulted in subtraction to the G.D.P. as Americans bought more foreign goods.

Barron's wrote the results could reflect that the U.S. economy rebounded more quickly from the pandemic than the economies in other countries, resulting in Americans purchasing more products from other nations than those countries buying from the U.S.

Biden released a statement on Thursday that addressed the news about the gross domestic product and defended the current handling of the economy.

"The American economy—powered by working families—continues to be resilient in the face of historic challenges," Biden said.

He added, "While last quarter's growth estimate was affected by technical factors, the United States confronts the challenges of COVID-19 around the world, Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and global inflation from a position of strength."

Biden also called on Congress to work together on a bipartisan bill to address supply chain issues and to lower the deficit. He also urged legislators to reduce prescription drug and utility bills without raising taxes on the middle class.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.