John Hinderaker of Powerline notes that although economic times are good, most voters seem to think they're bad. It's something I've been thinking about as well. His take on the reason:
No doubt inadequate news coverage is a factor, but I can't believe that a majority of Americans really have no idea how the economy is performing. I suspect that when asked about the economy in opinion surveys, many people focus on what they perceive to be negative at the timebudget deficits, the price of gasolineeither because that's what's in the news or because they hope to influence the government by voicing dissatisfaction.
Here's how I see the reasons.
Biased partisan media coverage. The Media Research Center has shown that mainstream media coverage of the Bush economy 2003-04 was much more negative than coverage of the Clinton economy of 1995-96, though the economic news was in fact similar. This should be no surprise. No serious person expects fair coverage from the New York Times.
But the result of the 2004 election showed us that there are limits to how far the mainstream media can lead the electorate around by the nose. Mainstream media coverage may explain some of the negative response to the economy, but not all of it.