Who Knew? Last week we were subject to a daily barrage of the democratic party telling us how absolutely lousy the economy was, and how miserable everyone was. There was only two thing wrong with that. The economy is improving, and people are relatively happy with their jobs and their lives. The Dems made a big point about people being upset with outsourcing, but polls show that is untrue also. The piece below from the WSJ examine the difference between Democratic party perception and American reality:
Barack Obama during his acceptance speech played a riff on Phil Gramm’s impolitic remarks about a “mental recession” and a “nation of whiners.” Like a succession of Democrats at the podium, he painted the economy in the darkest, most hopeless of colors — never mind that the economy is actually growing and unemployment is still lower than it was during much of the Clinton presidency. But here’s the bad news for the dour Democrats in Denver — most Americans don’t share their economic pessimism. That’s the finding of public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute. “Most Americans are feeling pretty good about their jobs and their personal lives,” she says after investigating the fine details of recent polls. Her report goes right to Mr. Gramm’s concern about the gap between actual economic performance and the dreary negativity of politicians and the media. She finds that 76% of Americans say they are actually optimistic about the direction of their own lives and their personal economic situations — even though only 18% are optimistic about the country. That’s the big disconnect. “These numbers haven’t changed much over time,” Ms. Bowman tells me. Job security and job satisfaction are both high in America too. “In Gallup’s August 2008 survey, 48% working Americans said they were completely satisfied, and another 42% somewhat satisfied. Only 9% were dissatisfied with their jobs.” And sorry, Lou Dobbs, that war on the middle class and the outsourcing of America that you complain about every night? Americans aren’t buying it. Only 8% worry about their jobs being outsourced to foreign competition. Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation tells me this squares with the economic data. “Very few jobs are lost each year to companies moving jobs offshore,” he says. What’s the No. 1 economic worry for Americans? Gas prices. Some three-quarters of Americans in Gallup’s July 2008 survey blame high gas prices for financial hardship, compared to 40% eight years ago. Mr. Obama last night offered a vague but dramatic promise to “end our dependence” on Middle East oil within a decade. (The AP candidly led its report by pointing out this “goal likely would be difficult — perhaps impossible — to achieve and flies in the face of how global oil markets work.”) Voters don’t seem to buy that either. Repeated polling has shown that, with their mantra of “drill, drill, drill,” Republicans seem to be offering a solution voters find more credible. I asked Ms. Bowman what accounts for the gap between people’s attitudes about their own lives and the economy in general. Her answer is no big surprise: “The relentless negativity of the media.” The Democratic message in Denver was about all that is wrong in America, though any balanced perspective would notice how resilient the U.S. economy has been amid the housing bust and surging oil prices. Former Clinton economist Brad DeLong noted in his blog recently: “If you had asked me a year ago whether this degree of financial chaos was consistent with a domestic U.S. economy not clearly in recession, I would have said no.” Given all this, John McCain might want to sound a more Reaganite note next week. As the Gipper proved in the 1980s, the economic optimist is likely to win in November.