So how’s the economy doing? Getting better, getting worse, or what? Gallup asked people this question twice in November and it turns out that Republicans have had a huge change of heart over the past week. The number who think the economy is on the mend has skyrocketed from 16 percent to 49 percent.
The point of this is not to make fun of Republicans.1 Democrats responded the same way, though not by nearly as much. The point is that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to poll questions like this. I’d put the beloved “right-track-wrong-track” question in this category too. Very often, people view these things as proxies for “what do you think of the current president?” They don’t really have any idea whether the economy is getting better or worse, but they don’t like that Obama guy, so they give a negative answer.
This tendency appears to be more pronounced among conservatives than liberals, but both sides do it. As an objective measure of what people really think about the economy, poll questions like this don’t tell us much.
1OK, maybe a little bit.