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Paul Krugman: Welcome to the Monkey Cage!

- July 19, 2010

Paul Krugman (my former colleague in the “Woodrow Wilson School”:http://wws.princeton.edu/ at Princeton) has a great column today in the “NY Times”:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/opinion/19krugman.html today. In it, he notes that:

bq. The latest hot political topic is the “Obama paradox” — the supposedly mysterious disconnect between the president’s achievements and his numbers. The line goes like this: The administration has had multiple big victories in Congress, most notably on health reform, yet President Obama’s approval rating is weak. What follows is speculation about what’s holding his numbers down: He’s too liberal for a center-right nation. No, he’s too intellectual, too Mr. Spock, for voters who want more passion. And so on.

bq. But the only real puzzle here is the persistence of the pundit delusion, the belief that the stuff of daily political reporting — who won the news cycle, who had the snappiest comeback — actually matters…. What political scientists, as opposed to pundits, tell us is that _it really is the economy, stupid_ (emph added).

As evidence, Krugman cites “a paper by political scientist Larry Bartels”:http://www.princeton.edu/~bartels/econpres.pdf (another former colleague of mine from Princeton) which concludes that:

bq. Objective economic conditions — not clever television ads, debate performances, or the other ephemera of day-to-day campaigning — are the single most important influence upon an incumbent president’s prospects for re-election

I am thrilled that Krugman has endorsed this point of view and given it the platform of his NY Times column. As readers of The Monkey Cage will by now know, we have been repeatedly discussing exactly this point in the Monkey Cage (see for example “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/03/health_care_the_political_impl.html, “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/03/whats_worse_politically_passin.html, “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/04/independents_unemployment_and.html, “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/07/do_deficits_matter_for_midterm.html and especially “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/02/the_economy_structures_everyth.html and “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/02/does_it_matter_if_everyone_hat.html; see as well Seth Masket’s blog “here”:http://enikrising.blogspot.com/2009/11/does-unemployment-affect-midterm.html). I have no idea if Krugman is a reader of The Monkey Cage, but as part of our mission here is to get political science research into the public domain, I can only count this as a success! (Although the political scientist in me can’t help but notice that he cited a paper that appeared in an _economics_ journal in 1997; for his next column on the topic, maybe he will take a look at some of the research posted by John “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/06/do_americans_really_want_to_cu.html and especially “here”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/02/the_economy_structures_everyth.html).