Economist Tells CNN ‘It’s Almost Pointless’ to Poll Republicans on the Economy Because Their Dislike for Biden Slants Their Answers


American politics are so divided along partisan lines, an economist told CNN Monday, that he thinks it’s now “almost pointless” to poll Republicans on the economy because they just dislike President Joe Biden so much that it slants their responses.

CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez mentioned a recent Wall Street Journal poll showing that “despite low unemployment and rising real wages,” most Americans were “still unhappy” with Biden, with only 37% approving and 59% disapproving of his handling of the economy. The White House “continues to push back” on criticisms of the president related to the economy and his age, and one adviser argued that polling showed that most Americans did “approve of the components inside Bidenonmics,” which was “underscoring the challenges that they may have with messaging, especially as we get into the campaign trail.”

“A challenge with messaging is one way to put it,” said anchor Boris Sanchez before introducing University of Michigan economics and public policy professor Justin Wolfers to “break down the details of the economy because there is this difference between perception and what is actually happening.”

“You’ve got historically low unemployment, inflation that appears to be cooling, wages are going up, and yet polling indicates that the majority of Americans do not believe President Biden is properly handling the economy,” said Sanchez.

“It’s a puzzle for sure,” said Wolfers. “So I will tell you as an economist, I believe the hard numbers. The hard numbers tell us that the economy’s growing and it’s growing at a healthy rate. If you’d fallen asleep in 2019 and you woke up in 2023, you would discover pretty much the sort of economy you would have expected, and you wouldn’t think to ask, hey, was there a global recession and a global pandemic in between, and I think that’s really the president’s great claim that things are as good or better than they would have been without a pandemic.”

Sanchez mentioned how there had been a lot of chatter “about the potential for a looming recession for the better part of nearly two years now,” and asked Wolfers if he thought the economy had “reached that soft landing that we’ve been talking about too?”

Wolfers replied that he wouldn’t say to “hang up the ‘mission accomplished’ banner too soon,” but did boast about how he had been “happily coming on CNN telling you there’s no recession and there hasn’t been.”

However, he continued, “what there has been, though, is a lot of depressed people,” and a “disjunction between reality and perception.”

According to Wolfers, “there’s no question” on whether the economy had gotten better over the past two years, because “unemployment is down, inflation is down, economic growth is up, real wages are up.”

“Everything has gotten better over the past two years,” he continued, even though only 28% of people said so.

While he said this, CNN displayed a graphic showing a perhaps more nuanced assessment of the state of the economy, listing “Good news” as a 3.8% jobless rate and “stock market near record highs,” “Somewhere in between” as the 3.2% inflation rate and “wages keep rising,” and “Bad news” as $1.03 trillion credit card debt and “7.18% 30-year mortgage rate.”

“A big part of that is this enormous partisan gap,” said Wolfers. “It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost pointless asking Republicans how they feel about the economy; only 7% of them were willing to admit the economy had gotten better over the past two years. So I think when we ask these questions, people are no longer telling us how they feel about the economy — really they’re telling us how they feel about the president.”

“Fascinating,” said Sanchez. “It’s like a Rorschach test.”

“Absolutely,” Wolfers agreed.

Watch above via CNN.

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media. A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law. Sarah's writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.