17 September 2008

Mostly Democratic Economists Mostly Favor Obama (UPDATED)

I'm not trying to spin this report, commissioned by Dilbert creator, Scott Adams. It is what it is.

Here's their polling sample:
48 percent -- Democrats

17 percent -- Republicans

27 percent -- Independents

3 percent -- Libertarian

5 percent -- Other or not registered

I'd been led to believe there were more libertarian economists.

I'm not entirely surprised about these ideological splits--econ is still heavily influenced by the huge amount of liberals in higher education, though perhaps less so than other departments because of econ's emphasis on empirical evidence--facts--something with which most leftists have a tenuous relationship.

Anyway, most of the economists polled favored Barack Obama. The breakdown on individual issues--where they think each candidate is better--is ... interesting.

(This is analysis, not spin)

I want to point out two things:

On international trade, McCain is favored 51% to 26%. This probably has something to do with the fact that McCain is a free-trader and has demonstrated that time and time again, even when it has hurt him. He has opposed the ethanol guys and told Michiganians that the old jobs weren't coming back.

In my opinion, the single greatest thing that could be done for the world--especially the world's poor--would be an immediate end to trade barriers, subsidies, etc.--in short, free trade everywhere.

Meanwhile, Obama wants to unilaterally re-negotiate Nafta--a free trade agreement that is arguably George H.W. Bush (his administration did the heavy lifting) and Bill Clinton's greatest co-accomplishment. This might have something to do with his low score, despite the huge ideological split which should result in an unbeatable advantage.

The other thing I want to point out is item #12: "Increase taxes on wealthy." This is classic, leftist, redistributive, class-warfare language and causes me to question the neutrality of this poll. A neutral poll would not phrase a question like this. It would be something without classist language like, "tax policy."

UPDATE 3:06pm MDT: Pendulum Politics contributor, RD, writes:

I agree with your conclusions about economists in today's post. I don't know for sure, but it looks like the survey methods were biased. For example, question 12 might have read, "who is more likely to increase taxes on the wealthy?" The answer to that is obvious, and may not reflect normative conclusions of those surveyed. I have a hard time believing that most economists think Obama will be good for the economy, though they are likely to have widely varying views about other issues.

In a follow-up, he added this caveat:

When I say most economists don't think Obama would be good for the economy, I am basing this on his rhetoric. Whether he sticks to his platform when in office has yet to be seen (and is, in my opinion, unlikely).

(emphasis added)

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