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HOW ECONOMISTS VIEW THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION A Study Conducted for SCOTT ADAMS, INC. by The OSR Group September 2008 CONTENTS Research Objectives 4 Study Methodology 6 Demographics of the Respondents 10 Political Profile of the Respondents 15

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how economists view the presidential election

HOW ECONOMISTS VIEW THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

A Study

Conducted for

SCOTT ADAMS, INC.

by

The OSR Group

September 2008

slide2

CONTENTS

  • Research Objectives 4
  • Study Methodology 6
  • Demographics of the Respondents 10
  • Political Profile of the Respondents 15
  • Familiarity with the Candidates’ Economic Programs 22
  • Most Important Economic Issues 28
  • Which Candidate Would Do the Best with Each Issue 40

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide3

CONTENTS(continued)

  • Overall Perspectives on the Candidates’

Economic Programs 60

  • Advice for the Candidates 80
  • Summary of Key Findings 89
  • Appendix (More Details on the Methodology) 94

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide4

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

  • To understand which Presidential candidate – John McCain or Barack Obama -- is believed by U.S. economists to be best for the economy overall, over the long term.
  • To evaluate which issues economists believe are most important, as they relate to the U.S. economy.
  • To understand which candidate is expected to make the most progress dealing with the issues that economists see as most important.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide5

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES(continued)

  • To assess which candidate is expected to do the best job with each of 20 potentially important economic issues.
  • To understand what types of economic advice economists would offer to John McCain and to Barack Obama.
  • To evaluate these and other issues by a selection of key demographics of U.S. economists.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide6

STUDY METHODOLOGY

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide7

PROJECT OVERVIEW

  • A total of 523 online interviews were conducted among economists who appear on the American Economic Association’s opt-in membership list.
  • E-mail invitations were sent to 6,514 people on a list of AEA members who have agreed to receive surveys and other e-mails from the Association.
  • The invitation to participate was sent on August 7, 2008. The survey was closed to additional responses on August 11, 2008.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide8

RESPONDENT SELECTION

  • To qualify for the survey, potential respondents had to meet two tests:
    • They had to confirm that they are members of the American Economic Association.
    • They had to be citizens of the United States.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide9

AN IMPORTANT NOTE

  • The American Economic Association did not sponsor the survey, and is not responsible for the interpretation of the survey results.
  • Scott Adams, Inc., and The OSR Group, thank the AEA for providing their opt-in membership list to serve as the sample frame for this effort.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide10

DEMOGRAPHICS OFTHE RESPONDENTS

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide11

GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF THE ECONOMISTS

Midwest

(24%)

-- Illinois 7%

-- Michigan 4%

Northeast

(24%)

-- New York 8%

-- Pennsylvania 5%

West

(16%)

-- California 10%

South

(33%)

-- Virginia 7%

-- Maryland 6%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

work profession
WORK/PROFESSION

Academia/Education 65%

Consulting 9%

Government 9%

The financial industry 6%

Other business/corporation/industry 6%

Editor/Columnist 1%

Think tank 1%

Other 2%

Retired/Not employed at present 5%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide13

GENDER

  • Eighty-six percent of the economists are male; 14% are female.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide14

HOUSEHOLD INCOME

  • Forty-three percent of the respondents had household incomes in 2007 of
  • between $100,000 and $200,000. The median income was $154,700.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide15

POLITICAL PROFILE OF THE RESPONDENTS

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide16

PARTY IDENTIFICATION

  • Almost half (48%) of the economists say they are registered Democrats.
  • Only one in six (17%) are registered Republicans. Twenty-seven percent
  • are registered as Independents.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide17

CANDIDATE PREFERENCE

  • As of today, 66% of the economists say they would vote for Barack
  • Obama, the Democratic candidate. Twenty-eight percent would vote
  • for the Republican candidate, John McCain.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide18

CANDIDATE PREFERENCE: BY PARTY IDENTIFICATION

  • Not surprisingly, Democrats favor Obama, and Republicans favor
  • McCain (although 15% of the Republicans favor Obama). By 60-33%,
  • the Independents favor Obama.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide19

CANDIDATE PREFERENCE: BY INCOME

  • There are no statistically significant differences by income, although the
  • economists who earn less than $100,000 are slightly less likely to favor
  • Obama.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide20

PROVIDING ECONOMIC ADVICE

  • Fifteen percent of the economists say they have provided economic advice
  • to one or more candidates – at a national, state, or local level – during the
  • past year. Eighty-five percent have not done so.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide21

PROVIDING ADVICE: BY PARTY IDENTIFICATION

  • Republican economists are more likely to have provided advice than are
  • Democrats or Independents.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide22

FAMILIARITY WITH THE CANDIDATES’ ECONOMIC PROGRAMS

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide23

FAMILIARITY WITH McCAIN’S ECONOMIC PROGRAM

  • Twenty-seven percent of economists say they are “very familiar” with John
  • McCain’s economic program. In total, 90% say they are at least “somewhat
  • familiar” with this program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide24

FAMILIARITY WITH McCAIN’S PROGRAM: BY CANDIDATE PREFERENCE

  • Those who favor McCain are more likely to be at least “somewhat familiar”
  • with McCain’s economic program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide25

FAMILIARITY WITH OBAMA’S ECONOMIC PROGRAM

  • Three in ten economists say they are “very familiar” with Barack Obama’s
  • economic program. In total, 91% say they are at least “somewhat familiar”
  • with this program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide26

FAMILIARITY WITH OBAMA’S PROGRAM: BY CANDIDATE PREFERENCE

  • Those who favor Obama are slightly more likely to be “very familiar” with his
  • economic program. When the “somewhat familiar“ people are included,
  • there is no significant difference.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide27

OVERALL FAMILIARITY WITH THE TWO PROGRAMS

  • Overall, the economists are about equally familiar with the two programs.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide28

MOST IMPORTANTECONOMIC ISSUES

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

how the question was asked
HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED
  • The respondents were shown a list of 20 issues and asked to rate the importance of each. The question was worded as follows:
    • “Here are some issues that some people have said are important to the U.S. economy. Please rate your own view of the importance of each issue, as it relates to the U.S. economy. Use a scale of 1-10, where “10” means this issue is absolutely critical to the economy, and “1” means it is not important to the economy.
  • The order of presentation of the 20 items was randomized, to reduce bias. The items appear on the next two pages.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

the 20 issues
THE 20 ISSUES
  • International trade policy
  • Encouraging technology and innovation
  • The mortgage and housing crisis
  • Providing tax relief for the middle class
  • Reducing the Federal budget deficit
  • Environmental protection, including reducing global warming
  • Education
  • Energy policy, including developing alternative sources of energy
  • Eliminating the estate tax
  • Increasing the proportion of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

the 20 issues continued
THE 20 ISSUES(continued)
  • Immigration policy
  • Reforming bankruptcy laws
  • Extending unemployment insurance
  • Raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation
  • Reducing the capital gains tax
  • Extending and strengthening the Unemployment Insurance system
  • Fixing the Social Security system
  • Health care policy
  • Reducing waste in government
  • Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and homeland security

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide32

THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES(based on % of 8-10 ratings)

  • The top four issues – education, health care, international trade, and energy
  • – are each rated at least “8” in importance by 60% or more.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide33

THE NEXT SET OF ISSUES(based on % of 8-10 ratings)

  • The next three issues are each rated at least “8” in importance by 50% or
  • more.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide34

THE THIRD SET OF ISSUES(based on % of 8-10 ratings)

  • The next set of issues are each rated at least “8” in importance by 30% or
  • more of the economists.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide35

THE FOURTH SET OF ISSUES(based on % of 8-10 ratings)

  • The next two issues are each rated at least “8” in importance by 20% or
  • more.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

the rest of the list based on of 8 10 ratings
THE REST OF THE LIST (based on % of 8-10 ratings)
  • The final seven issues are each rated at least “8” on the “1-10” importance scale by fewer than 20% of the economists:
    • Providing tax relief for the middle class (16%)
    • Reducing the capital gains tax (15%)
    • Extending unemployment insurance (14%)
    • Extending and strengthening the Unemployment Insurance system (13%)
    • Raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation (13%)
    • Reforming bankruptcy laws (11%)
    • Eliminating the estate tax (9%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

most important issues by candidate preference
For those who favor McCain

International trade (73%)

Education (64%)

Social Security (63%)

Technology and innovation (58%)

Iraq, Afghanistan, and homeland security (49%)

Reducing waste (46%)

Health care (45%)

Energy (42%)

Immigration (42%)

For those who favor Obama

Health care (77%)

Education (74%)

Energy (70%)

Iraq, Afghanistan, homeland security (63%)

Environment (61%)

Mortgage and housing crisis (59%)

Technology and innovation (59%)

International trade (57%)

MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES:BY CANDIDATE PREFERENCE

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

the issues with the largest percentage differences
THE ISSUES WITH THE LARGEST PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES

Favor McCainFavor Obama

Reducing capital gains tax 39% 4%

Reducing waste 46% 18%

Eliminating estate tax 23% 3%

Social Security 63% 43%

Environment 12% 61%

Taxes paid by the wealthiest 5% 40%

Health care 45% 77%

Energy 42% 70%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

a note about subgroups
A NOTE ABOUT SUBGROUPS
  • It is worth noting that those who favor Obama give higher percentage ratings [in other words, higher proportions rate the issue at least “8” in importance] for 14 of the 20 issues.
  • It is also worth noting that those who claim to be most familiar with the two candidates’ economic plans are most likely to choose higher percentage ratings.
    • Those who say they are “very familiar” with McCain’s program choose higher percentages for 14 issues than do those who are less familiar.
    • Those who say they are “very familiar” with Obama’s program choose higher percentages for 16 issues than do those who are less familiar.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide40

WHICH CANDIDATE WOULD DO THE BEST WITH EACH ISSUE

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

how the question was asked41
HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED
  • After they rated the importance of each of the 20 issues, the respondents were asked to note which candidate would do the best job with each issue. The question was worded as follows:
    • “Here is the list of issues once again. Now please note which of the two Presidential candidates you believe would do the best job with each of these issues. Please use the scale you see below for your ratings.
    • “If you wish, you may refer to the candidates’ Web pages to review their proposed policies, but you do not need to do this. The following links will get you to the economic policy pages at each candidate’s Web site:
    • “John McCain: http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/jobsforamerica/
    • “Barack Obama http://origin:barackobama.com/issues/economy/”

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

how the question was asked continued
HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED(continued)
  • For this question, the economists used a 7-point scale, with McCain at 1, “no difference” at 4, and Obama at 7. Therefore, any response of 1-3 meant that McCain would do the best job with that issue, and any response of 5-7 meant Obama would do the best job with that issue.
  • As was true earlier, the order of presentation of the 20 items was randomized, to reduce bias.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

mccain s strongest issues who say he would do the best job
McCAIN’S STRONGEST ISSUES(% who say he would do the best job)

Reducing the capital gains tax 72%

Eliminating the estate tax 63%

International trade policy 51%

Reducing waste in government 38%

Iraq, Afghanistan, and homeland security 30%

Immigration policy 29%

Reducing the deficit 29%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide44

OBAMA’S STRONGEST ISSUES(% who say he would do the best job)

Taxes paid by the wealthiest 79%

Environmental protection 72%

Raising the minimum wage 70%

Extending unemployment insurance 68%

Health care 65%

Unemployment Insurance system 65%

Energy 61%

Education 59%

Iraq, Afghanistan, and homeland security 58%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

how the candidates compare on the most important issues
HOW THE CANDIDATES COMPARE ON THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES
  • The charts on the next seven pages compare the candidates on all 20 issues, in order of the importance of these issues. For each issue, the charts show the percentage who say McCain would be best, the percentage who say Obama would be best, and the percentage who say there would be no difference between the candidates.
  • In total, Obama rates higher than McCain on 16 of the 20 issues; McCain rates higher than Obama on four issues.
  • Among the most important issues, Obama rates higher on 11 of the top 12.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide46

COMPARISONS ON THEMOST IMPORTANT ISSUES

  • Obama is the overwhelming choice for the two most important issues –
  • education and health care. McCain is the clear choice for the third issue –
  • international trade.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide47

COMPARISONS ON THENEXT MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES

  • Obama is strongly preferred on each of the next three issues.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide48

COMPARISONS ON THETHIRD SET OF ISSUES

  • Obama is also the clear choice for the next three issues. The difference is
  • particularly striking for environmental protection.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide49

COMPARISONS ON THEFOURTH SET OF ISSUES

  • Obama is also preferred for these next three issues, and especially for
  • increasing the proportion of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. Note
  • that Obama is seen as the best choice (by 37-29%) for reducing the
  • Federal budget deficit.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide50

COMPARISONS ON THEFIFTH SET OF ISSUES

  • On two of these three issues – the 13th and 15th most important – McCain
  • is seen as the better choice. Obama is best for providing tax relief to the
  • middle class.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide51

COMPARISONS ON THESIXTH SET OF ISSUES

  • Obama is the overwhelming choice for all three of these relatively
  • unimportant issues.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide52

COMPARISONS ON THELEAST IMPORTANT ISSUES

  • Obama is the choice for reforming bankruptcy laws. McCain is clearly
  • preferred for eliminating the estate tax.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

defections on the most important issues
DEFECTIONS ON THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES
  • The next six pages show how opinions about who would be best for the six most important issues vary by candidate preference and by party identification. In other words, to what extent do those who support McCain overall defect to Obama for particular issues, and to what extent do those who support Obama overall defect to McCain.
  • Similarly, to what extent do Democrats and Republicans cross party lines on the most important economic issues. The views of Independents on each issue are also shown.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

who would be best at education by key subgroups
WHO WOULD BE BEST AT EDUCATION:BY KEY SUBGROUPS
  • For the most important issue – education -- McCain supporters believe McCain would do the best job on this issue, but by a smaller margin than the one by which Obama supporters choose Obama. The same is true for Democrats and Republicans. Independents believe Obama would do the best job on education.
    • McCain supporters (Obama 16%; McCain 41%)
    • Obama supporters (Obama 81%; McCain 2%)
    • Democrats (Obama 82%; McCain 2%)
    • Republicans (Obama 19%; McCain 41%)
    • Independents (Obama 50%; McCain 18%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide55

WHO WOULD BE BEST AT HEALTH CARE:BY KEY SUBGROUPS

  • For the second most important issue – health care – the same pattern holds. McCain supporters believe McCain would do the best job on this issue, but by a smaller margin than the one by which Obama supporters choose Obama. The same is true, once again, for Democrats and Republicans. Independents believe Obama would do the best job on health care.
    • McCain supporters (Obama 20%; McCain 59%)
    • Obama supporters (Obama 88%; McCain 2%)
    • Democrats (Obama 89%; McCain 4%)
    • Republicans (Obama 24%; McCain 58%)
    • Independents (Obama 56%; McCain 25%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide56

WHO WOULD BE BEST AT INTERNATIONAL TRADE: BY KEY SUBGROUPS

  • For the next issue – international trade – Obama supporters are just as likely to pick McCain as they are to pick their own candidate. McCain’s international trade policy also picks up significant support from Democrats and from Independents.
    • McCain supporters (Obama 3%; McCain 86%)
    • Obama supporters (Obama 37%; McCain 37%)
    • Democrats (Obama 42%; McCain 34%)
    • Republicans (Obama 5%; McCain 82%)
    • Independents (Obama 16%; McCain 63%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide57

WHO WOULD BE BEST AT ENERGY:BY KEY SUBGROUPS

  • For the next issue – energy policy – the pattern is the same as for the first two issues. Obama does better among McCain supporters than McCain does among Obama supporters. Independents think Obama would do the best job on energy.
    • McCain supporters (Obama 14%; McCain 63%)
    • Obama supporters (Obama 84%; McCain 4%)
    • Democrats (Obama 86%; McCain 4%)
    • Republicans (Obama 18%; McCain 65%)
    • Independents (Obama 50%; McCain 26%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide58

WHO WOULD BE BEST AT TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION: BY KEY SUBGROUPS

  • For encouraging technology and innovation, there are more respondents in the “No difference” category than for some other issues. Among those who do pick a candidate, the McCain margin among his supporters is again smaller than Obama’s margin among his. Independents favor Obama, but by a smaller margin than for some issues.
    • McCain supporters (Obama 9%; McCain 58%)
    • Obama supporters (Obama 60%; McCain 7%)
    • Democrats (Obama 61%; McCain 8%)
    • Republicans (Obama 11%; McCain 57%)
    • Independents (Obama 38%; McCain 27%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide59

WHO WOULD BE BEST AT IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, AND HOMELAND SECURITY: BY KEY SUBGROUPS

  • On this issue, McCain supporters believe McCain would do the best, and Obama supporters believe Obama would do the best. The fact that there are more Obama supporters overall explains why this issue is in the Obama column. Independents favor Obama.
    • McCain supporters (Obama 10%; McCain 81%)
    • Obama supporters (Obama 81%; McCain 10%)
    • Democrats (Obama 81%; McCain 12%)
    • Republicans (Obama 16%; McCain 74%)
    • Independents (Obama 52%; McCain 37%)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide60

OVERALL PERSPECTIVES ON THE CANDIDATES’ ECONOMIC PROGRAMS

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

making the most progress how the question was asked
MAKING THE MOST PROGRESS –HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED
  • After the discussion of specific issues, the economists were asked which candidate would be best on the issues of importance. The question was worded as follows:
    • “Overall, which candidate do you think would make the most progress on the issues you believe are most important to the economy overall?”
  • Once again, the respondents were asked to use a 7-point scale, with McCain at 1, “no difference” at 4, and Obama at 7. Therefore, any response of 1-3 meant that McCain would make the most progress, and any response of 5-7 meant Obama would make the most.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide62

WHO WOULD MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS

  • Overall, 60% of the economists say Barack Obama would make the most
  • progress on important economic issues. Thirty-two percent pick John
  • McCain.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide63

WHO WOULD MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS: BY PARTY IDENTIFICATION

  • Democrats choose Obama by a large margin, and Republicans choose
  • McCain. Independents pick Obama, by 49-37%.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide64

WHO WOULD MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS: BY CANDIDATE PREFERENCE

  • Not surprisingly, those who favor each candidate overall also believe that
  • candidate would do best with the most important economic issues.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide65

WHO WOULD MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS: BY INCOME

  • The middle group is slightly more likely to favor Obama. Otherwise, there
  • are no significant differences by income.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide66

WHO WOULD MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS: BY FAMILIARITY WITH McCAIN PROGRAM

  • Those who are “very familiar” with the McCain economic program are
  • about as likely to believe Obama would do the best job as are those who
  • are less familiar with McCain’s program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide67

WHO WOULD MAKE THE MOST PROGRESS: BY FAMILIARITY WITH OBAMA PROGRAM

  • Those who are “very familiar” with the Obama economic program are
  • slightly more likely to believe Obama would do the best job than are those
  • who are less familiar with Obama’s program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

why some respondents selected mccain open ended question
WHY SOME RESPONDENTS SELECTED McCAIN(open-ended question)

Prefer his economic policy 22%

Prefer his trade policy 12%

More likely to reduce government/Less regulation 9%

More experienced 7%

McCain understands economics 4%

Disagree with Obama’s policies 17%

Disagree with Obama’s trade policy 5%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

why mccain in the respondents own words
WHY McCAIN – IN THE RESPONDENTS’ OWN WORDS
  • “McCain could be less inclined to ‘make changes,’ which will be better for the economy. Obama will try to leave ‘his mark’ in the society, which is bad. Never underestimate a politician\'s capacity to screw up the economy.”
  • “Sen. McCain appears to favor a greater reliance on the market and less on taxation or regulation, which is an approach I favor.”
  • “In most cases, McCain favors doing the things like free trade that will most help the economy and opposes things like increasing and indexing the minimum wage which would hurt it.”
  • “Republicans are better for business and capitalism.”
  • “McCain understands that there is no free lunch. He will encourage private initiative and take more seriously our long-term fiscal crisis.”

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide70

WHY SOME RESPONDENTS SELECTED OBAMA(open-ended question)

Prefer his economic policy 15%

Prefer his health care policy 9%

He is intelligent/educated 8%

Good advisors 7%

More likely to bring about change 7%

Agree with his values/positions 6%

Prefer his energy policy 6%

Disagree with McCain’s policies 8%

McCain wants to maintain Bush policies 6%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

why obama in the respondents own words
WHY OBAMA – IN THE RESPONDENTS’ OWN WORDS
  • “Only Obama is interested in taking economic issues seriously in general, and certainly only Obama is concerned with economic justice.”
  • “McCain virtually ignores all of the problems that I see as important to the economy.”
  • “McCain would simply continue the policies of Bush on the major issues. Obama would take steps to make the tax system more equitable, invest in America, and deal with key environmental issues.”
  • “I prefer his approach to health care/health insurance.”
  • “Obama will be more responsive to the need for new technology, new energy sources, new environmental protections, and less controlled by corporate interests.”

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide72

WHY SOME RESPONDENTS SAY THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE(open-ended question)

Dislike both/It doesn’t matter 28%

A President has limited ability to affect the economy 15%

They have similar views 15%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide73

BEST FOR THE LONG TERM –HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED

  • The economists were also asked which candidate would be best for the economy, over the long term. The question was worded as follows:
    • “Which candidate do you think would be best for the economy overall, over the long term?”
  • As before, the respondents were asked to use a 7-point scale, with McCain at 1, “no difference” at 4, and Obama at 7. Therefore, any response of 1-3 meant that McCain would be best for the long term, and any response of 5-7 meant Obama would be best.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide74

WHO WOULD BE BEST FOR THE LONG TERM

  • By almost exactly the same percentages as for the “make the most
  • progress” question, 59% of the economists say Barack Obama would
  • be best for the long term; 31% say John McCain would be best.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide75

BEST FOR THE LONG TERM: BY PARTY IDENTIFICATION

  • Once again, Democrats choose Obama by a large margin, and
  • Republicans choose McCain. Independents pick Obama, by 46-39%.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide76

BEST FOR THE LONG TERM: BY CANDIDATE PREFERENCE

  • As was true earlier, those who favor each candidate overall also believe
  • that candidate would be best for the economy, over the long term.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide77

BEST FOR THE LONG TERM: BY INCOME

  • The middle group is slightly more likely to favor Obama. The highest
  • income group is slightly more likely to prefer McCain than are the other
  • groups.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide78

BEST FOR THE LONG TERM: BY FAMILIARITY WITH McCAIN PROGRAM

  • Those who are “very familiar” with the McCain economic program are
  • more likely to believe Obama would be best for the long term than are
  • those who are less familiar with McCain’s program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide79

BEST FOR THE LONG TERM: BY FAMILIARITY WITH OBAMA PROGRAM

  • Those who are “very familiar” with the Obama economic program are
  • more likely to believe Obama would be best for the long term than are
  • those who are less familiar with Obama’s program.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

slide80

ADVICE FORTHE CANDIDATES

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

asking for advice
ASKING FOR ADVICE
  • Toward the end of the interview, the economists were asked to offer advice to the two candidates. The questions were asked in an open-ended way, so that the economists could respond in their own words. The two questions were worded as follows:
    • “Let’s say John McCain’s campaign asked you to offer some economic advice. What 2 or 3 things would you suggest, from the perspective of an economist? Please be as specific as possible.”
    • “Let’s say Barack Obama’s campaign asked you to offer some economic advice. What 2 or 3 things would you suggest, from the perspective of an economist? Please be as specific as possible.”

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

advice for john mccain open ended question
ADVICE FOR JOHN McCAIN(open-ended question)

Focus on specific policy areas (NET) 44%

-- Focus on health care 20%

-- Focus on energy policy 17%

-- Focus on education 11%

-- Focus on immigration 8%

-- Focus on the environment 5%

Taxes (NET) 38%

-- Raise taxes 10%

-- Cut taxes 8%

-- Don’t cut taxes 8%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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ADVICE FOR JOHN McCAIN(continued)

Taxes (NET) – continued

-- Focus on tax reform 7%

-- Eliminate the Bush tax cuts 5%

-- Scrap the Gas Tax Holiday idea 4%

Finance (NET) 20%

-- Cut/control spending 7%

-- Cut the deficit 7%

-- Increase financial regulation 5%

-- Balance the budget 3%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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ADVICE FOR JOHN McCAIN(continued)

Support free trade 13%

Defense (NET) 9%

-- Get out of Iraq 7%

-- Reduce military spending 3%

Fix Social Security 8%

Don’t drill for oil 5%

Focus on smaller government/less regulation 4%

Reduce/Remove subsidies 4%

Invest in infrastructure 3%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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ADVICE FOR BARACK OBAMA(open-ended question)

Focus on specific policy areas (NET) 42%

-- Focus on health care 24%

-- Focus on energy policy 14%

-- Focus on education 13%

-- Focus on immigration 5%

-- Focus on the environment 3%

Taxes (NET) 33%

-- Raise taxes 8%

-- Don’t raise taxes 7%

-- Cut taxes 6%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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ADVICE FOR BARACK OBAMA(continued)

Taxes (NET) – continued

-- Focus on tax reform 6%

-- Don’t cut taxes 3%

-- Drop the windfall/excess profits tax 3%

Support free trade 26%

Finance (NET) 20%

-- Cut the deficit 9%

-- Cut/control spending 5%

-- Increase financial regulation 4%

-- Balance the budget 4%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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ADVICE FOR BARACK OBAMA(continued)

Fix Social Security 8%

Focus on smaller government/less regulation 6%

Reduce/Remove subsidies 6%

Defense (NET) 6%

-- Get out of Iraq 4%

-- Reduce military spending 3%

Increase incentives 5%

Fix Medicare 3%

Invest in infrastructure 3%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

a comment about the advice
A COMMENT ABOUT THE ADVICE
  • Note that the categories of advice are the same for both candidates. The percentages change somewhat, when one candidate is perceived to need more advice in that area. For example, the percentage who tell Obama to support free trade is 26%; only 13% offer this advice to McCain. On the other side, 17% advise McCain to focus on energy policy, compared to 14% who give this advice to Obama.
  • Note also that the specific policy areas that generate the most advice – education, health care, international trade, and energy – are also the four areas that ranked as the most important issues, according to the economists.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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SUMMARY OFKEY FINDINGS

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

summary of key findings
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
  • By a margin of 60-32%, economists believe Barack Obama would be better than John McCain at making progress on the issues that are most important to the economy. (The remaining 8% see no difference between the candidates on this measure.)
  • By an almost identical margin (59-31%), economists think Obama would be best for the economy overall, over the long term. (Ten percent say there would be no difference between the candidates.)
  • If the election were held today, 66% of the economists would favor Obama and 28% would favor McCain. (Six percent would favor someone else.)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

summary of key findings continued
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS(continued)
  • Democrats make up 48% of the economists; only 17% say they are Republicans. About three in ten (28%) are Independents. The Democrats are especially likely to favor Obama, and to believe Obama would be best for the economy. Similarly, the Republicans favor McCain and believe McCain would be best for the economy. By 60-33%, the Independents favor Obama.
  • From a list of 20 issues, the economists rank education as most important to the U.S. economy (71% rate this issue either “8,” “9,” or “10” in importance, on a 10-point scale). The next most important issues are health care (67%), international trade (62%), and energy (60%). Following that are wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and homeland security (58%), and technology and innovation (also 58%).

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

summary of key findings continued92
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS(continued)
  • Obama is seen as most likely to do the best job on 16 of the 20 issues that were discussed. McCain rates higher than Obama on four issues. Among the issues seen as most important to the U.S. economy, Obama rates higher than McCain on 11 of the top 12.
  • The top issues for McCain are:
    • Reducing the capital gains tax (72% say McCain would be better on this issue);
    • Eliminating the estate tax (63%);
    • International trade policy (51%); and
    • Reducing waste in government (38%).

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

summary of key findings continued93
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS(continued)
  • The top issues for Obama are:
    • Increasing the proportion of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans (79% say Obama would be better on this issue);
    • Environmental protection, including reducing global warming (72%);
    • Raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation (70%); and
    • Extending unemployment insurance (68%).
  • When asked to give advice to the candidates, the economists focus on the issues they had described as most important – education, health care, international trade, and energy.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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APPENDIX(MORE DETAILS ON THE METHODOLOGY)

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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INTERVIEWING PROCEDURES

  • The questionnaire for this study was developed by The OSR Group. The questionnaire was reviewed and revised by the Scott Adams, Inc., project team before interviewing began.
  • Answer categories were randomized, as appropriate, to remove bias in the ordering of the questions.
  • The respondents were told that Scott Adams, Inc., is sponsoring the study. All of the respondents were promised confidentiality for participating in the study.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE

  • All individuals on the AEA’s opt-in list were asked to participate in the survey. Therefore the respondents were not “sampled” in a statistical sense. Those who chose to participate were included among the respondents.
  • With that said, it is helpful to understand the rules for statistical significance that would apply to random samples of similar sizes, as a guideline in understanding the importance of differences among various subgroups of the data.
  • The maximum sampling tolerances that would apply to randomly selected samples of various sizes are shown on the next page. These figures represent the 95% confidence level, which is based on two standard deviations.

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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MAXIMUM SAMPLING TOLERANCES

  • The respondents in total (523 interviews) + 4%
  • Prefer McCain (146 interviews) + 8%
  • Prefer Obama (344 interviews) + 5%
  • Democrat (251 interviews) + 6%
  • Republican (88 interviews) + 10%
  • Independent (144 interviews) + 8%
  • Less than $100,000 income (108 interviews) + 9%
  • $100,000 - <$200,000 (226 interviews) + 7%
  • $200,000 or more (132 interviews) + 9%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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MAXIMUM SAMPLING TOLERANCES(continued)

  • The sampling tolerances that apply to other subgroups of the data depend on the numbers of interviews in those subgroups:

Numbers of InterviewsMaximum Sampling Tolerance

400 + 5%

200 + 7%

150 + 8%

100 + 10%

50 + 14%

How Economists View the Presidential Election -- September 2008

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