General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is it still, "it's the economy, stupid"?

Asked by wundayatta (58706points) September 16th, 2008

Conventional wisdom says that voters vote their pocketbooks. Yet here we are in the midst of a severe downturn. The stock market is down steeply. Credit is hard to get. The unemployment rate is higher than it has been in maybe over a decade. Some people have compared this situation to the recession in the late 80s. Some, perhaps to the Carter recession.

By the conventional wisdom, Obama should be way out in the lead. But he’s not. He may even lose.

Is he an inept politician? Is it racism? Does the economy no longer matter? Has McCain managed to wall himself off from being a Washington insider, so he can say he represents a new and different way of fixing the economy?

Right or left, Republican or Democrat, what’s your analysis of the impact the economy has had on this campaign?

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15 Answers

marissa's avatar

I am going to answer from the point of view that you stated in your question, which is that “Obama should be way out in the lead. But he’s not. He may even lose.”

- I think some people are really nervous about just how much he might raise taxes and the effect that could have on the economy, given the state of it at the moment.

- I don’t think it is racism, although you will always find a few people that are, I don’t think there are enough to effect the election (at least I hope not, if he doesn’t win, let it be because of him not his skin)

-I think that a lot of folks are nervous about his experience and a lack of a long track record to look at, whether that is justified or not, I’m not debating, I’m just stating what I think others are concerned about.

- I think that disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters play a part in this also.

wundayatta's avatar

@marissa: so, in your opinion, do you think these other things are enough to overcome concerns about the economy, and the need for change in how the economy is handled? Or are you just offering these ideas as possibilities?

rawpixels's avatar

I’m not really sure why so many people think Obama would be great for our economy. I guess people think just because Bush has been a disaster, that any Democrat would be better. Certainly, raising taxes in a poor economy would only make things worse. I really have little faith in both candidates. We’re screwed!

marissa's avatar

Well, I am offering them as possible ideas, however, I also think that people are unsure if Obama would actually help the economy. Also, you have the situation where people are not choosing between the current president and a new president, no matter who wins, it will be a new president, so I think that also effects the theory about a bad economy in an election year means a new president elected.

basp's avatar

It is true that Obama says he will raise taxes, but look atcwhich taxes he is talking about raising. Unless you make 250,000 a year, you won’t be impacted by the tax increase. His plan is to increase taxes on those who are rich, not the middle class.

Harp's avatar

A September Newsweek poll asking “what’s the most important issue in your presidential choice this year?” sheds some light on this question.

Among those choosing “the economy and jobs”, 55% were Obama supporters, vs 23% of McCain supporters.

Choosing “taxes and government spending”, however were 22% of McCain supporters, vs 7% of Obama supporters.

Security-related issues are the top criterion for 18% of McCain supporters, 2% of Obama supporters.

“Values” issues are tops for 13% of McCain supporters, vs 3% of Obama supporters.

So those for whom it is the economy do seem to be lining up behind Obama. But that concern is counterbalanced by the hatred of taxes, security concerns and “values” agendas of others.

The economy is still significant, but its complexities are far beyond the ken of the majority of voters, which leaves the door wide open for obfuscation and spin. No matter what the realities of the economic situation, messages like “tax less and spend less” will be about as deep into the arcane world of economy as most folks are willing to venture. Even asking the electorate to stop and look at who is bearing the tax burden seems to be a stretch. In short, the public latches onto the message it understands, whether or not it matches reality.

robmandu's avatar

Scott Adams commissioned a survey of 500 economists and asked them which candidate was best for the economy.

Adams puts the survey results in perspective: “If an economist uses a complicated model to predict just about anything, you can ignore it. By analogy, a doctor can’t tell you the exact date of your death in 50 years. But if a doctor tells you to eat less and exercise more, that’s good advice even if you later get hit by a bus. Along those same lines, economists can give useful general advice on the economy, even if you know there will be surprises. Still, be skeptical.”

robmandu's avatar

BTW… let’s take a look at the numbers left to us by Carter when he left office:

12% inflation.
7+% unemployment
18% APR on home mortgages.

I’d take today’s economy over that one without hesitation.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I just want to quote a CNN interview this morning:
Interviewer: “Most of our independent economists say that Barack Obama is actually cutting taxes for about 90% of Americans. DO you agree with that?”

John McCain: “No because there are taxes, many Americans are not paying taxes at all but the point is that keeping taxes low and restraining spending. ...”

He keeps talking but never makes it better, he just starts attacking Obama. My point is this: many Americans are not paying taxes at all???? Also, independent analysis is showing that BO would give tax cuts to 90% of Americans (another indep. analysis I read said 4 out of 5 homes, so I’m willing to go with either number) and McCain’s plan gives tax cuts to fewer folks.


wundayatta's avatar

It’s not the issues; it’s the sound bites. What portion of the electorate watches unscripted interviews with candidates? Everyone knows that politicians make a lot of “promises” they don’t keep. That’s the problem when you can say anything in an election campaign, and you have to actually make legislation with a fractioius Congress if you are elected.

So, if most of the electorate feels incapable of assessing the likelihood of the promise being followed up on, all they have to go on is the promise, unless, of course, they don’t even listen to the words, or read, and they just decide based on looks and “character.”

allengreen's avatar

“I’d take today’s economy over that one without hesitation.”

and I’d take being sodomized by an elephant over…...

robmandu's avatar

… a barrell??

… a waterfall??

… and over???

Just speaking for myself, I could do with less insight into your personal recreation proclivities, @allengreen.

marinelife's avatar

For me, it is the economy. I certainly would not take this economy over the one from eight years ago, which I think is more to the point than dragging in the Carter years.

Carter, by the way, can hardly be accountable in his single four-year term for all of the woes of that time.

Judi's avatar

If it wasn’t a week ago when you asked this question it sure is today.

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