Georgia Votes: Inflation remains top of mind for Georgians

Inflation remains top of mind for Georgians. (Credit BRITTNEY PHAN for State Affairs)

Oct 12, 2022

This story is Part I of this week’s two-parter highlighting what Georgian’s have to say about inflation. Part II on inflation will run tomorrow. Subscribe to State Affairs at to read all of our election coverage.

Weekly grocery bills have doubled for Peachtree City empty-nester Steve Brown and his wife. Kendall Edwards, a 28-year-old farmer and tractor dealership employee, lives with his parents in Ocilla and has put plans to buy land and a home on hold. Marla Thompson is installing solar panels on her Riverdale home to hedge against rising electric bills. 

Like most Americans, these Georgians have different experiences — and strategies — when it comes to dealing with soaring inflation, this week’s topic for State Affairs’  10-member focus group, which includes people from different political, social and economic backgrounds throughout the state.

Over the next month, they’ll be weighing in on kitchen table issues and chronicling their journey toward the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Georgia Votes

“Inflation is probably the biggest issue on the ballot right now,” Brown, a Republican, told State Affairs.

And for good reason.

“For most people, it’s the worst inflation during their working lifetime,” said economist Jeff Humphreys, adding, “It’s definitely the worst inflation since the 1970s.”

U.S. Inflation has grown 8.3% in the last year, Humphreys said. The volatile growth is even more evident when you look at individual sectors. Energy prices — electricity and gas for cars, for instance — soared 25% during that same period, he said.

Sunbelt cities in the Southeast and the Southwest are experiencing the worst inflation in the country, according to consumer price index data released in September.  Metro Atlanta was No. 2 on the list, behind Phoenix. 

Americans are at their wits’ end dealing with higher gas pump prices due in part to the Russia-Ukraine war, near-empty store shelves as companies untangle supply chain snarls and as the government tamps down on rapid growth in the money supply. Inflation occurs when the money supply grows at a faster rate than the economy’s ability to produce goods and services.

“The good news is that inflation has peaked and will trend downward,” said Humphreys, director of economic forecasting at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business. “The bad news is we’re kind of living at the peak right now.”

Inflation will likely settle down, averaging a 3% annual rate for the near future compared to 2% prior to the pandemic, Humphreys said.

Here’s what five Georgians from diverse backgrounds  had to say about inflation. You’ll hear from the other half tomorrow.

Yana Batra

Yana Batra, 18, Democrat and Georgia Tech freshman; first time voter

In what ways has inflation affected you recently?

I’m a college student. My housing and meal plans are fixed. So I’m not feeling the effects of inflation so much because the environment I’m in is much more insulated. But it’s something important to remember as we consider the effects of inflation more broadly. Obviously, the people who are feeling it the most are working families, lower-middle class families. Overwhelmingly Black and brown folks, in particular.  So it’s something to not lose sight of.

Who or what is responsible for the inflation that we’re facing now? 

That’s a really interesting question.  I think a really common framing is [to blame] the current administration or Democrats, Republicans, whatever. More important things to consider are the recent global events, a massive pandemic that’s disrupting the supply chain, and a war in Ukraine with similar impacts. Another thing that’s important to remember is that corporations are still experiencing record profits. I think 2021 across the board, was an overwhelmingly positive year for many corporations that encompass a broad spectrum of products and services Americans buy. So when you have groups that are still profiting massively, and yet continuing to raise their prices, I think it’s very fair to say that a lot of corporations are responsible for the inflation and rising prices that we’re seeing.

How will inflation or cost of living issues affect your vote in November?

Here in Georgia, we are sitting on a budget surplus right now because of how fortunate we’ve been because of COVID relief money and the way we’ve balanced our budget over the past few years. When you look at the policies Democrats have proposed to do things like raise the minimum wage or actually increase teacher salaries instead of dropping small bonuses … I think when you look at policies that are more like long-term support as opposed to short-term windfalls, that’s definitely going to be shaping my vote.

Steve Brown

Steve Brown, 58, Republican lives in  Peachtree City with his wife; empty-nester

In what ways has inflation affected you and your family recently?

Everything’s costing more. It’s eating a lot out of our budget.  For the two of us, we probably spend $400 a week on groceries whereas before we spent $200 and we ate out a lot. Now we’re not eating out as much. I can’t recall a time when grocery prices across the board have risen this high. I was alive during the Carter years [when inflation climbed to nearly 15%]. I just wasn’t buying a whole lot of groceries then.

Who or what is responsible for the inflation that we’re facing now? 

The simple answer would be that the Biden administration is making mistakes and we’re paying for some of them. The more complicated answer is the Russian-Ukraine situation, which kind of exacerbated all of this. It doesn’t look good. I think that’s what really  kind of started everything rolling. Once the gas prices started [stabilizing] … the Russian supply got cut off. There were supply chain issues as well. Supply chain issues are a peacetime thing. You work that out and you’ll eventually get that back. But when you get into a situation like Ukraine, it just starts rolling downhill and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. That’s kind of where we are right now and it doesn’t look as if there’s an end in sight.

How will inflation or cost of living issues affect your vote in November?

It’s going to affect a lot of people’s votes from what I’m hearing. If gas prices still hovered around $4 you would have seen an avalanche across the nation. Whoever’s ​​in office during those types of scenarios always gets destroyed. Inflation is probably the biggest issue on the ballot right now. My kids are grown and out of the house. These young families have got to put food on the table every day and you’re watching that grocery bill just skyrocket. That’s gonna be a motivator. 

Kendall Edwards

Kendall Edwards, 28, farmer and precision agriculture consultant for a local tractor dealership; lives in Ocilla; single

In what ways has inflation affected you?

I’ve kind of placed homeownership and things of that nature on the back burner. So now where I’ve got a career and got things going my way and [I’m making] a decent amount of money, it’s just not reasonable. Right now you’re going to pay for anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a house or car or a bag of chips at a convenience store. You’re paying more for that item. That is a tough cookie to swallow. That’s not something I’m willing to do now. Probably at the first of the year I’m just going to have to say, ‘Hey I can’t keep staying at my Mama and Daddy’s forever.’ 

I’ll look for the land and then I’ll provide the housing. My initial plan was to buy property —  30 acres or so with pecan trees or something or another, and build a barn as a starter while I’m still unmarried.

I have had very close friends who’ve  looked into buying in the last year but who ended up buying twice over the budget they initially sat down and drew up. A $100,000 house in this area  — I live in a rural area in a town that’s got two red lights — is bumping $170,000/$180,000. Thirty acres two-and-a-half to three years ago was roughly $1,800 an acre. [That’s now double]

Who or what is responsible for the inflation that we’re facing now? 

The worst thing that happened is that we had a two-year pandemic. That opened the door to something we weren’t ready for. Nobody was prepared for something like that to come in here and cause as much havoc as it did with the population. The lack of jobs, being able to stay open based on employers or employees, things of that nature. I think that really was the sole motivator to inflation. Whether we handled it as a government properly … When we got stimulus packages, some people making $100,000 in this rural South Georgia town got $5,000/$6,000 worth of [stimulus] checks. They did not need that. I couldn’t understand why [the federal government] felt the need to qualify everybody [to get the checks].

How will inflation or cost of living issues affect your vote in November?

It’s going to be in the back of my head. I know who I’m going to vote for anyway. At this point, four weeks from the election, that isn’t going to change.

Keith McCants

Keith McCants, 40, Democrat and factory worker married with three children; lives in Richmond Hill

In what ways has inflation affected you and your family recently?

Going to the grocery store. If you want to buy cube steak, for example. Six months to a year ago, it would cost me about 9 or 10 bucks. Now it’s up to around $20, $25 for a family pack [which has about six steaks].  I have a wife, a 13-year-old and a 2-year old. My oldest is at Albany State University.

It really depends on the store  you go to.  I go to Publix or Kroger but if you go to Food Lion down here or something like that, you get a better deal.

Who or what is responsible for the inflation that we’re facing now? 

That’s a hard one. I know people like to blame the president but I don’t think he’s responsible for the inflation. I think it’s various factors. You’ve got the war in Ukraine. Then, you got the global markets. I’m no expert but what happens, say, in Britain, can have a ripple-effect across the world. Then, also you have COVID and the supply chain disruptions. Then you have all these goods sitting on these ships out in the ocean. And you go to a grocery store or go shop for clothes and the shelves are empty. So, the little bit you have there [in the stores] can cause the prices to go up. That’s just my opinion.

How will inflation or cost of living issues affect your vote in November?

Inflation’s not going to be an important factor for me. It’s  really not going to be that big a factor in determining who I will vote for in November.

Marla Thompson

Marla Thompson, 65, married college professor who lives in Riverdale; Democrat but votes according to issue

In what ways has inflation affected you and your family recently?

It really hasn’t. Not yet.

Who or what is responsible for the inflation that we’re facing now? 

It’s a combination of a lot of things. It might be the federal government for medication and Medicare in the state of Georgia. Kemp could have expanded Medicare but he hasn’t done that. So it really depends on what asset or facet you’re looking at. For example, the utility companies decide we need a [rate] increase and they just push it on to the consumer. With those utility companies, what I’m learning is that people are starting to get knowledgeable and becoming aware of what these utility companies are doing. So they’re starting to become more engaged in the process where before they really didn’t care. People are paying attention and going to meetings and asking the right questions. We [my husband and I] have decided to get rid of Georgia Power and we’re getting ready to put solar panels on our house. The Biden administration just signed this bill giving individuals who go electric or go solar 30% [tax write-off] versus the 24% that was being given before.

One of the things I have learned and I teach my students all the time is that they need to get comfortable with change because change is inevitable. They need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable because sometimes we have to make sacrifices for what we want today so that we can save something for our kids for tomorrow. That’s the way I kind of view it.

How will inflation or cost of living issues affect your vote in November?

It absolutely will. I won’t be voting for Kemp because he didn’t expand Medicare. My husband’s at the Medicare age and I’m getting to the Medicare age, too. If Kemp can’t expand it, why would I want to vote for somebody that only really looks out for the rich? The rich can afford to go and get [other insurance]. They can afford to send their daughters, wives, lovers, or side chicks out of town to  get an abortion. Yet they don’t want to allow me to get one if my life’s in jeopardy.

Join the Conversation

Will  inflation influence the way you vote at the polls on Nov. 8? Share your thoughts on social media: 

Twitter @StateAffairsGA

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Contact Tammy Joyner at [email protected] or on Twitter @LVJOYNER

Catch-up on our E-Team:

State Affairs selects 10 Georgians for election team focus group

Georgia Votes: Inflation remains top of mind for Georgians (pt. 2)







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