Is It the Economy…? Or Partisanship? Or Something Else?

The Clinton Presidential Campaign of 1992 [yes, that one] was highlighted by various iterations and permutations of the phrase, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” And from then until sometime during the Obama Presidency, the popularity of the President in office seemed to be linked to the state of the economy.

Last week The Economist published a story that purported to show that “the true state of the economy is nearly irrelevant to voters.” After reading the piece, I came away with a different interpretation of the polling numbers. The Economist poll showed that Republicans were “four times as optimistic as Democrats about the state of the stock market” while “Liberals complained about high housing costs and low wage growth.”

Duh… might this “shift” just have something to do with who has what assets and what sources of income and who lives where? Although wages are rising faster now than during the last years of the Obama administration, real inflation-adjusted wages for people who are mid-middle-class and lower on the income scale are lower than they were a generation ago and housing costs are far higher. And most people in that income category live in urban metropolitan areas and also face higher housing costs, while housing costs in rural areas are far more affordable. Likewise, the cost of post-secondary education is crippling for students coming out of any income group but the upper class or upper middle class.

Under these conditions, certain aspects of the economy matter more to these people, not because of their political orientation but because of their socio-economic position. And as Republicans continue to ignore these economic problems, these individuals are more likely to vote Democratic, but their partisanship is driven by economic factors, rather than their partisanship driving their view of economics.

In addition, the stock-market means absolutely nothing to such voters. While some may have pensions or retirement programs invested in the market, on a day-to-day basis, the stock market isn’t a perceptual factor to them because very few of them have discretionary cash assets to invest.

As is often the case, the poll numbers may indeed be accurate, but what they mean isn’t necessarily what they used to mean – or what even renowned sources postulate.

2 thoughts on “Is It the Economy…? Or Partisanship? Or Something Else?”

  1. Shannon says:

    I read that Economist article but apparently not critically enough. Thank you sharing your views on it. I hope you enjoyed your Father’s Day!

  2. Wine Guy says:

    What is relevant to a particular person about the economy is analgous the parable of the 3 blind men and the elephant.

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