It's the outcomes, stupid
There are a lot of different parts to the government. There's the president, the Congress, the Senate, your governor, the general government itself, and much more. But people aren't very keen on making distinctions between them. As you can see in this graph from Jim Stimson (published at the Monkey Cage):
What you'll notice there is that people generally approve of all parts of the government at once. The ratings aren't the same for each institution and player, but the trends are pretty similar. That suggests we're not dealing with a discrete and detailed judgment as to how effectively the House of Representatives has conducted its duties in the past year. What we are dealing with, Stimson says, is a verdict on the economy. The following graph charts consumer sentiments against a line averaging approval of all parts of government. Aside from a divergence around 9/11, the symmetry is very tight:
This is more evidence, I think, for the idea that politicians need to worry less about what the electorate thinks of what they're going to do and more about how well -- and how quickly -- their policies will actually work.
People in Washington spend a lot of time thinking about what political players are doing, and so they concoct elaborate theories of what the voters think about what political players are doing, and then they offer advice on what political players can do to change voters' minds. But all the evidence is that voters don't pay very close attention to politics and are much more interested in the state of the economy than the behavior and emotiveness of politicians.
Posted by: Patrick_M | February 18, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cbaratta | February 18, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: HalHorvath | February 18, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: HalHorvath | February 18, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bgmma50 | February 18, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bgmma50 | February 18, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cpurick | February 18, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nicholasrandel | February 19, 2010 5:58 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.