Source: Nicole Silverio

The U.S. economy unexpectedly tanking in the first quarter of the year has created a nightmare scenario for President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party ahead of the midterms elections.

The gross domestic product (GDP) dropped at an annualized rate of 1.4% between January and March, the worst shrinkage since the country’s economic shutdown in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, CNN reported Thursday. Recent polling has found that Biden will have to change voters’ perceptions on the current state of the economy for Democrats to have any hope in November.

A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 42% of Americans believe economic conditions are “poor,” while 32% said the economy is in fair shape. Over three quarters of Americans, 76%, said the economy is getting worse while less than one quarter, 20%, said it is improving.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index, which measures the public’s feelings about the economy on a scale of +100 being very high and -100 being very low, currently stands at -39. The poll surveyed 1,018 adults between April 1-19 with a 4% margin of error.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he gives remarks on providing additional support to Ukraine’s war efforts against Russia from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. Alongside a new supplemental aid request to the U.S. Congress, President Biden proposed turning assets from Russian oligarchs seized through sanctions into funding to rebuild Ukraine. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The high costs of inflation and the economy overall are the issues Americans currently prioritize the most, the poll found. In April, 17% of respondents said inflation is their most important problem in the U.S., and 12% answered that all economic issues are the most important. With issues unrelated to the economy, the majority of respondents overwhelmingly said the government and poor leadership are their biggest concern.

A Quinnipiac poll also released Wednesday found that only 33% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, while 61% disapprove. The poll surveyed 1,554 adults between April 21-25 with a 2.5% margin of error.

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“It’s the worst political environment that I’ve lived through in 30 years of being a political consultant,” Biden pollster John Anzalone said, according to CNN.

Inflation reached its highest levels since December 1981 when the Consumer Price Index soared 8.5% in March. Gas prices skyrocketed to an average of over $4 per gallon early last month after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

The administration has dubbed rising prices as “Putin’s Price Hike,” though prices of gas and other essential goods had risen months prior to the war in Ukraine. The president first tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to release 50 million barrels of oil to combat rising gas prices in November, four months before the invasion.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll found that registered voters are almost evenly split between favoring Democrats and Republicans, with 43% of respondents supporting Democrats and 42% for Republicans. Republicans have a strong advantage over voters who who prioritize the economy by a 50%-39% margin. The poll surveyed 2,005 registered voters between between April 15-17 with a 2% margin of error.