Obama Hearts Economists and Vice Versa


The Obama campaign is rife with academic economists, according to the latest issue of The New Republic, including some unlikely University of Chicago-types:

The Obamanauts are decidedly non-ideological. They occasionally reach out to progressive think tanks like the Economic Policy Institute, but they also come from a world– academic economics–whose inhabitants generally lean right. (And economists at the University of Chicago lean righter than most.) As a result, they tend to be just as comfortable with ideological diversity as the candidate they advise. Just before the Iowa caucus, I saw [Obama adviser] Goolsbee approach New York Times columnist David Brooks in Des Moines and gush when the quirky conservative agreed to pose for a picture.

Meanwhile, according to a new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll, people think McCain will do a better job handling the economy than Obama, 42 per cent to 34 per cent. This despite his now-famous line: "I'm going to honest. I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." (see clip above)

It could be true, of course, that a McCain presidency would be better for the economy, even if the man himself isn't a particularly subtle economic thinker, because of better underlying ideology or disposition. I think it probably would be. But I would rather have seen a story about all the super-smart econ nerds flocking to the McCain campaign and the candidate welcoming them with open arms.

The again, maybe I never would have seen that story, or at least not in The New Republic, since it wouldn't be news. Most people (certainly the people who answered the latest L.A. Times poll) already think Republicans are the more economically literate party.

UPDATE: I should have said "when it comes to the presidency, people already think Republicans are the more economically literate party." Polls do find that in recent months people prefer Dems to Republicans on the economy, but that captures overall party sentiments, including feelings about Congress.