Framing Science


Just how bad has the information tide turned against McCain on the economy? The conservative Economist magazine, in survey results published this week, finds that economists overwhelmingly name Obama as more qualified to handle the economy.

More Democrats than Republican economists replied to the survey, but even among Republicans, Mr Obama has the edge: 46% versus 23% say Obama has the better grasp of the subject. In terms of who is more likely to surround himself with qualified experts, 81% of all respondents say Obama; 71% among respondents who say they are unaffiliated with a party.


  1. #1 Tony P
    October 5, 2008

    I see from many articles this week that Obama is pulling ahead in many key states.

    He’s also preemptively running ads to counter McCain’s commercials that tie Obama to Rezko and others.

    It’s getting interesting and I hope like all hell that Obama gets the nod in a few weeks. But then the stupidity of my fellow Americans never fails to amaze me.

    One friend is well educated (MBA holder) who’s a McCain head. Yet he works for the state, makes less than I do, and is in hock up to his eardrums.

  2. #2 decrepitoldfool
    October 5, 2008

    Sarah Palin said on Fox News that she reads The Economist. Must be the ‘Alaska edition’.

  3. #3 andy
    October 5, 2008

    Lets be scientific here folks. For one, the Economist magazine is economically conservative but in the same way that most economists are more economically conservative than most. Almost all economists recognize the utility of free trade, for instance, but very few democratic politicians in america do. The Economist is certainly liberal on social issues, so it is false to simply characterize the magazine as conservative.

    Many economists will tell you that one of the major problems with voting is that voters have no incentive to make sure that their choice is rational. Somebody may have an emotional affinity for a candidate, but he or she has no incentive to see if this candidate’s policies are appealing. More importantly, the voter has no immediate incentive to know much about the effects of policies at all. This explains, among other things, the unpopularity of free trade in today’s political sphere, which persists despite the strong consensus among economists that free trade is ideal policy.

    It should be noted that these same biases apply to the informal survey presented above. Many economists are specialized to such a degree that they know little about macroeconomic policy. Moreover, how many of the surveyed economists have read both candidate’s policy plans in full, or watched debates? To what extent might their view on other issues color their responses? Such a poll is a clearly a poor instrument for determining which candidate has the “best” policy.

  4. #4 JYB
    October 6, 2008

    I saw a similar poll earlier on slashdot from Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy). The results were similar in that what was really striking was the amount of Republicans who agreed that Obama’s plan was better.

    Also, I think in both cases there were many more Democrats than Republicans. In Adams case at least he claimed it was a random survey. I’m not sure what that means.

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