President Joe Biden to visit Triangle Thursday

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – President Joe Biden will visit the Triangle on Thursday to talk about efforts by his administration to spur job creation and lower costs in North Carolina.

Administration officials say he’s expected to discuss how “Bidenomics” and his “Investing in America” agenda have helped businesses to create more than 400,000 jobs in the state since Biden took office and contributed to the unemployment rate dropping down to 3.5% in November.

The visit comes as his campaign has made North Carolina a key target in 2024, following former President Donald Trump’s victories in the state in 2016 and 2020.

David McLennan, who runs the Meredith poll at Meredith College, said the President faces a challenge in delivering his economic message as people continue to feel the impacts of higher prices.

A poll he released in November found 56% of North Carolina voters disapprove of Biden’s job performance compared to 42% who approve.

“Grocery prices for certain staples are still pretty high. So, he’s dealing with people’s reality, their experience, which is difficult for any politician but particularly President Biden, to talk about successes at a macro level when people are feeling at a very personal level what they’re feeling,” he said.

Administration officials have been making regular stops in North Carolina in recent weeks.

Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg came to Raleigh in mid-December to announce more than $1 billion in funding to complete a high-speed rail project connecting Raleigh to Richmond.

Vice President Kamala Harris went to Charlotte last week to announce $12 million in funding for mental health resources in schools, including to hire more than 300 counselors.

Additionally, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, came to Raleigh last week to announce record enrollment in health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

“I think this is part of the Biden strategy is to talk more about the successes with the economy and try to convince people through personal appearances that things really are not as bad as they may indicate in polls and other things,” said McLennan.

Democratic strategist Doug Wilson said he wants to see the President focus on a few issues while he’s in North Carolina, including efforts to lower prescription drug prices.

“Acknowledge that there’s still pain out there for people. Although the economy is doing very well, there’s still a number of our fellow Americans and fellow citizens here in North Carolina that still feel the pain,” he said.

Steve Bergstrom, chair of the Wake County Republican Party, said even as the inflation rate has come down significantly, higher prices will remain a key concern for voters this year.

“The everyday family is worried about their pocketbook, they’re worried about day-to-day bills, inflation,” he said. “I think that’s going to bear out in the 2024 elections when we see the economy continues to be the number-one issue. And, I think voters are disappointed and upset with the way the economy continues to go.”

McLennan said a rematch between Biden and Trump would likely be close once again in North Carolina. Trump won in 2020 by about 1.4%, but Trump’s disapproval rating in the state is similar to that of President Biden.

“Having Trump win the nomination is probably the best he could hope for because any other matchup would be much more challenging,” said McLennan.

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