I was surprised at how little attention my Dilbert Survey of Economists got from the media. It did well on the Internet, finding a prominent place on CNN.com, then getting picked up by Reuters, BusinessWire, MarketWatch.com, Yahoo, Dilbert.com obviously, and tons of blogs. But it didn’t get any play with television, radio, or newspapers. Why not?
Several people with knowledge of the media told me the survey “wasn’t biased enough.” Democrats and Republicans in the survey mostly stuck to the party line. Obama had the most support from economists, by far, but there are more Democratic economists in the country, and in the survey, also by far. To my knowledge, no one has ever studied why that is.
Today the headlines tell us that Obama is pulling ahead in the polls because likely voters have more confidence that he can handle the economic crisis compared to McCain.
In other words, public opinion is starting to line up with the opinion of economists. Did the Dilbert Survey of Economists have any impact on that move?
The biggest reason for the move in the polls probably has to do with McCain’s support of Republican policies that are widely seen as the source of the problem.
Second, the financial problem is complicated. The only thing we ignorant voters know for sure is that we want someone with a high IQ to sort out this mess on our behalf. No matter how much you love McCain’s philosophy, track record, moral compass, common sense, or anything else about him, he doesn’t come close to Obama in pure brain power. For most issues, that probably doesn’t make much difference. For an issue of this complexity, it might.
Third, I think the Dilbert Survey of Economists probably had some impact, at least with the free thinkers of the Internet. A lot of people, including me, assumed before the survey that most professional economists would lean Republican. The fact that so many economists are Democrats, and support Obama, is both a surprise and hard to ignore.
I wouldn’t have funded the survey if I didn’t have this blog. And I wouldn’t have this blog if people didn’t leave comments. So if the Dilbert Survey of Economists ends up changing the world, and you have ever left a comment here, you were part of something important.