The economy has been a top issue for most voters throughout this midterm election campaign, with inflation reaching its highest level in decades and fears of a recession. In a recent CBS News poll, likely voters surveyed said the economy (82%) and inflation (76%) were very important issues to them.
Those issues are especially top of mind for small business owners, including Tony Stafford of Ford’s Fish Shack in Northern Virginia. “It’s just every day or every week, sometimes, I pick up the phone to find another shortage or something that's doubled in price, and a lot of that is based on transportation because we're kind of an area where we have to have everything shipped in.” Stafford told CBS News.
He says he still can’t print menus, because prices continue to change so much. It’s an added struggle for restauranters who are still trying to build back from the pandemic.
“It seems like every time we get to a point where we're see trends coming up and people coming back out, or pricing stabilize, and then something else just kind of, you know, grabs us and throws us back three or four steps.”
At the nearby Famous Toastery restaurant in Ashburn, owner Angela Goodman can relate. “We went through a period of time where there was literally no predicting how much our food cost was going to climb.” Goodman whose restaurant sits in a battleground district, ’s 10th, considers the economy her top issue ahead of November.
“I employ a staff of over 30 people. I worry about their families and I worry about how I'm going to provide them a paycheck to put food on their family's table,” she said.
It’s also a driving factor for diner Andrew Yeatman enjoying a lunch out that now costs more. “My wife and I are looking at retirement and trying to figure out how to do it in this economy and it’s challenging,” he said.
Yeatman said he believes Republicans would do a better job at handling the economy. Fellow Virgnia voter Roland Dedmon disagrees.
“You can’t blame it all on the Biden administration; I think both parties are guilty,” said Dedmon who also worries about rising costs. “With Medicare, I’m paying for two prescriptions, it’s $300 dollars a month,” he said.
Dedmon believes the newly passed Inflation Reduction Act could eventually lower his health bills, and he wants Democrats to stay in control of the U.S. Congress. “There’s a lot I don’t like on the left, but there’s more that I don’t like on the absolute ultra-right,” he said.
Business owners Angela Goodman and Tony Stafford said they’re still looking to hear more specifics from the individual candidates.
Democrat Jennifer Wexton currently represents Virginia’s 10th Congressional District; she’s facing a challenge from Republican Hung Cao. Considered a target district for both parties, it’s on the list of “frontline” races that Democrats are trying to defend. Meanwhile, Republicans are feeling more optimistic about success in Virginia’s swing counties, given last year’s gubernatorial race which elected Republican Glenn Youngkin.
“We're trying to find leaders and elected officials that really feel for us as small business owners and really understand the struggles we're going through,” said Stafford.
“I don’t think they have enough window into the real crisis out there especially in this county of people who can’t afford to put food on their own table,” said Goodman, who says she votes for individual candidates, not just one political party.
“I don’t feel like I hear solutions,” she continued. “I feel like I hear a lot of blame game. I feel like over the past 12 it’s a lot of finger pointing, and I don’t feel like the work is being done the way it needs to be done.”