Recent polls have shown that voters trust Obama over McCain in addressing the economy by a margin of about 10-15%. But, what do the experts think?
The Economist conducted its own poll of economists (appropriately), and found that they agreed that Obama is the stronger candidate when it comes to the economy–but by a much wider margin. Eighty percent respondents agreed that Obama has a better grasp of economics (versus 8% for McCain), and 81% believed that Obama would pick the better economic team (versus 14% for McCain). On a scale of 1-5, respondents gave Obama’s economic plan a 3.3 and McCain’s a 2.1.
McCain couldn’t even catch a break from Republicans. Although these self-identified Republican economists gave McCain the benefit of the doubt on their assessment of his economic plan and his prospects for picking a better economic team, 46% said that Obama appears to have a better grasp of economics (versus 23% for McCain). This graphic from The Economist gives you an idea of just how stark the results of this survey were:
The commentary in The Economist’s accompanying article is also–as usual–quite illuminating, pointing out just how extraordinary this wide margin of support for Obama is (and this is coming from a publication that has generally been quite deferential to McCain this election season):
There is an apparent contradiction between most economists’ support for free trade, low taxes and less intervention in the market and the low marks many give to Mr McCain, who is generally more supportive of those things than Mr Obama. It probably reflects a perception that the Republican Party under George Bush has subverted many of those ideals for ideology and political gain. Indeed, the majority of respondents rate Mr Bush’s economic record as very bad, and Republican respondents are only slightly less critical.
“John McCain has professed disdain for ‘so-called economists’, and for some the feeling has become mutual,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. “Obama’s team is mainstream and non-ideological but extremely talented.”
Where the candidates’ positions are more clearly articulated, Mr Obama scores better on nearly every issue: promoting fiscal discipline, energy policy, reducing the number of people without health insurance, controlling health-care costs, reforming financial regulation and boosting long-run economic growth. Twice as many economists think Mr McCain’s plan would be bad or very bad for long-run growth as Mr Obama’s. Given how much focus Mr McCain has put on his plan’s benefits for growth, this last is quite a repudiation.
Hat tip to Framing Science.