Monday, January 14, 2013

Handicapping the voters

Explaining the results of elections keeps many people busy. Even harder, most political candidates try to channel constituents' thinking. The Economist (Jan 12) includes "Economists v the rest of America" (graphic shown below).  What stands out?

The biggest response gap is whether "Buy American" is good policy.  About ten percent of the economists quizzed say "yes", but almost 80 percent of the public agree. The political favorite is obvious. 

But the two respondent group are pretty close when it comes to "The benefits of America's 2009 stimulus will exceed the cost."  But look at "America's stimulus lowered the unemployment rate.  Most economists say "yes" but less than half the public agreed. 

There is almost as big a gap for "Changes in U.S. petro prices mainly reflect market factors."  The populist view seemingly sees price rigging.  But what about "It's hard to predict stock prices"? All the economists quizzed agreed, but over half of the public disagreed.  But wouldn't the populist view be that it's just a rigged casino and impossible for the non-insider to predict prices?

Perhaps it's the complexities of the populist view that keeps the candidates guessing.