It’s no longer the economy, but we are still stupid

Motivated Reasoning, Public Opinion, and Presidential Approval‘, an interesting new paper forthcoming in the journal Political Behavior (summarized here), by Kathleen M. Donovan, Paul M. Kellstedt, Ellen M. Key, Matthew J. Lebo finds that support for sitting presidents has become increasingly misaligned with national economic expectations. Rather than being a sign of voters realizing that presidents play little role determining economic performance, they attribute this to increased partisan polarization.

I think this is a compelling account. All I would add is a potential causal mechanism. My current favorite dimensions for analyzing democratic trends in the developed world is demography. Voters are ageing. When retired, they tend to have much less direct involvement with the productive economy than when they were working. On average, the elderly are quite rich and living off entitlements they have acquired during their working lives. So they are both less reliant on current economic opportunities and less knowledgeable of them. This means their personal costs of partisanship, relative to good policy, is lower than it used to be. And this is what lets all the culture-war nonsense creep into people’s decision functions.

2 thoughts on “It’s no longer the economy, but we are still stupid

  1. Personally, right now the only thing that may be saving us is the current president has little to no power.

    Support Trump’s ideas or not, after watching many of his speeches, his work thus far drastically shows he is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. It is like he has ideas (rather I agree with them or not) but no moral or education how to properly carry them out. It’s scary.

    I think rather people supported Obama or not, I believe it is when people really started to see the obvious of the president having no real power. Not really sure why people are shocked though. :/ Unless they know nothing about politics and just vote? I am not even American (Canadian who legally immigrated here) and I know how their elecitions work. Corporations are in their back pockets before they are elected. Then they expect a president to have power? Corporations have ran things for a very long time. The president is not the problem. It is why I don’t get hung up in Trump debates even though I detest his ideas with a passion and think he is a unstable lunatic. (personal opinion of course)

Please keep it civil

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s