Economic Trends and Projecting the Outcome of McCain vs. Obama

Obama's calm response to the crisis contributed to his lead in the polls.

By SHARE

A trio of excellent articles on the financial crisis from the Washington Post's Outlook section Sunday. Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, explains why the crisis won't result in a larger public sector. The Post's Greg Ip on why the steps the government has taken so far are not so radical, at least as compared with some alternative steps taken elsewhere. Joel Kotkin on how we are more likely to build stronger local ties and local communities in the coming years. The Outlook section also had an article, with good graphics, on election projections based on economic trends. But curiously, the article and graphics don't include the 2000 election when, as I recall, such projections said that Al Gore would get as much as 56 percent of the vote. Gore—and George W. Bush—ended up with 48 percent.

My take has been that these economic models are based on the responses of voters who remembered the 1930s, and that they are a poor guide for today. Some might say that my view has been undercut by the fact that Barack Obama overtook John McCain in the polls during the financial frenzy that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15. But I (and a lot of others of varying political persuasions) think this is more a matter of Obama seeming to remain calm while McCain—with his "suspension" of his campaign and his call for postponing the first presidential debate—seemed to be impulsive. And now Obama's statement to plumber Joe Wurzelbacher that he wanted to "spread the wealth" has put him on the defensive. In any case, the factors in the projection formulas are longer-term trends, while the financial crisis has been a day-to-day frenzy.

I highly recommend the estimable ByronYork on an Army of Joes and Tito the Construction Worker. Joe the Plumber seems to have legs.