The American economy is historically strong, and our workers are doing well
Simon- This is great stuff! What we are running up against, at least in part, is a national media that is broken. This brokenness means that telling us facts is not their number 1 priority. Instead, their number 1 priority is to create conflict and conflate the R's total lack of interest in governing in a democracy into something "normal". It's bad for ratings if there is no conflict to report on, which is really where we are. The data is clear that one party (Democrats) governs responsibly and well, and one party (Republicans) destroy the economy, deficits and income equality, every time they are in office. We need to understand that this will not be fixed quickly or maybe even at all. It's up to us to get loud and tell the story too.
I think one reason for the measurable rise in job satisfaction has to be the work-at-home-and-office hybrid work life that was forced on employers because of COVID. I am retired but every employee I talk to who is working only from home or splitting their time between home and office claim they are never going back to their former daily 9-5 commute work life.
Moderate rates of inflation (even 5 percent or so) do not make people worse off on average. (Yes, there are some changes in relative prices so that there are some winners and losers, but these are fairly small effects.) The real concern with inflation is that there is a risk that inflation gets out of control. That concern is what is causing the Fed to clamp down. The damage of inflation really comes more from the Fed's actions than inflation itself. So I would say that even the moderate rates of inflation we have experienced to date have not made people worse off and therefore it would even be wrong to say that inflation is too high. It is too high only in the sense that it is high enough for the Fed to feel they have to clamp down. Most people have difficulty understanding this point because they focus on price increases, but a look at the overall picture including increases in wages shows that concerns about high inflation are misplaced. An analogy might be high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, that does not reduce your well being by itself. The concern is that the high blood pressure might cause a problem down the road (analogy to runaway inflation) if nothing is done about it.
I've been thinking along similar lines, and I think it raises the similar questions to last year: are the polls asking questions in the wrong way?
Something I wanted to bring to Simon's and everyone else's attention is the fact that Democrats are dramatically outperforming the Biden 2020 margins and Clinton 2016 margins in special elections this year. I don't know how many of you follow this, but we now have nearly six months of data and voters seem much more pro-Democrat than the prevailing narrative and polling suggests. Here's the link to the spreadsheet that Daily Kos keeps track of: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ajyphWQru9TgDDiBe8kvEmApBEXND2wl9MVaxi1dndk/edit?usp=sharing
Right now Democrats are outperforming the Biden 2020 margins by around 7 points, which would put Biden right around 55-56% if he outperformed 2020 by a similar margin. Enough to approach 400 electoral votes, and certainly enough to give Democrats control of the House again. Something to continue watching.
The media always describes the current inflation as high. It is higher than the Fed's 2% target. Even at 8% it was elevated, but nowhere the high inflation of 1979-81. Media needs to describe inflation as Medium inflation not High inflation. The Fed could maybe help by using high less often.
Second, democrats are not good at promoting that the economy does better under democratic Presidents. Businesses do better under democrats than under republicans. Yes there is a bit more regulation to protect all of us.
Excellent! To complement your analysis, last night Chris Hayes has a chart on government spending by President. Surprise no surprise. Under Republican presidents, gov spending rose. Under Democratic presidents, government spending declined.
This is abaolutely terriffic stuff. Maybe we could get Rob Shapiro to go on the road or at least to major eonomiic writers/publications and make sure they understand the data you present so well. At the very least we should be able to get the major news networks to tell a more accurate story of the economy--as they work hard to fix their really bad polling methodologies.
Thank you for the detailed dismemberment of disinformation regarding the economy. One hopes that eventually consumers will value their lived experience more than the distorted sensationalist narratives told by Republicans and echoed in much of the media.
Republicans excel at propaganda, lies and financial crime. Democrats are much better at governing and running an economy. The media is bought by the Republicans. The media excels at propaganda, lies and financial crime.
So, here is a quick summation of the main point in your column on polling about the economy. Why is polling on the economy so wrong? It is because we keep asking the wrong questions. In fact, most people lack a real understanding of how to measure the strength of the economy accurately. So asking them how they "feel" about how the economy is doing is unlikely to get a reliable answer. Instead, ask them questions such as:
Are you currently employed?
Are your wages or salary higher this year than last year at this time?
Is your household budget doing better, worse, or about the same as last year?
Can you pay all or at least most of your expenses from your wages and savings without substantially increasing your debt?
Can you successfully manage the amount of your household debt?
Do you have health insurance?
In other words, ask people about their personal finances and financial well-being. Most people know how they are doing personally, but likely have little real understanding about how the economy is doing.
Bravo! Totally agree. Most reports are very shallow, and aim only for headline-worthiness!
Thanks for this superb summary. At least around here, what weighs against the good economic data is the continuing visual evidence of post-COVID churn among small businesses. Boarded up storefronts are discouraging (as are rent increases.) The dislocations here were probably well underway before the pandemic, but now you can SEE it. Not that it will upset the Democratic apple cart in this city.
This is a great post with very helpful data and perspective! It has bothered me for months that I constantly read reports of how the majority of Americans think the economy is bad and that Biden is not managing the economy well. Simply didn’t ring true, at all. Republicans repeat ad infinitude lies about our economy and, people not knowing any better, believe what they hear. Democrats don’t do much to counter this perverted narrative and when we do, we tend to do so in terms that are too technical.
I would love to have a lot of polling on the questions that Bruce Carpenter recommends above. THAT sort of data would be easy to talk about broadly, clearly, and compellingly!
Great stuff. Simon keep pushing this data out We need to share it. Important for our Dem friend/family to hear this. To much gloom & doom on our side. Love Simon positive realistic message! Pass it on
I hold onto one simple Datapoint… If people really felt the way the media is reporting that they feel, Democrats would’ve been crushed in 2022, and they would be getting crushed in every special and off year election this year. Simple fact of the matter is, that isn’t happening.
I have believed for over a year that there was a clear disconnect between the media narratives and the realities. Very similar to the abortion debate… We were told for most of the last 50 years that abortion was a 50-50 issue… But that’s only true if you stop asking questions with, “are you pro life, or pro choice?“ turns out an additional 10 to 15% of Americans who will never call themselves “pro-choice“ actually ARE pro-choice as a matter of execution on public policy.
If you believe that abortion should remain largely safe and legal, but personally can’t possibly imagine ever having one… You are the actual definition of pro choice, but you might very well label yourself pro life. I think we have a similar disconnect happening with economic data. Otherwise, I just can’t imagine that the Democrats wouldn’t have paid a much larger political price over the last year and a half.
I think theAmerican public needs to have this information present clearly and succinctly. It’s like someone was hosting a party and a bunch of wet blankets showed up because they weren’t invited to dance. Can we somehow get beyond MAGA and the depressing base?