An election should be a referendum on how things are actually going. For example, it is perfectly reasonable for people to say they will vote against Biden because inflation went up on his watch, if that is an issue they care more about than employment. What is not reasonable is that so many Americans are ignorant about the basic facts on which they can base their vote.
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If Americans knew as much about the economy as they do about which influencer promotes which beer, the NFL preseason, or what’s on their favorite streaming service, chances are that President Joe Biden’s job approval would be quite a bit higher.
Unfortunately for him and Democrats, voters are apparently clueless about the state of the economy, and conservative news outlets want to keep it that way.
This isn’t to say that everything is going splendidly (or even that Biden can take all of the credit for the things that are going well). However, there are some measurable metrics that Americans could be aware of if they paid just a tiny bit of attention.
Perhaps the best examples are the unemployment rate and the number of jobs the economy has added since Biden took office.
The former stands at 3.5 percent, which is extremely low. A main reason is that there are now 13.4 million more jobs than there were in January of 2021. Again, as we pointed out, that has reasons that go beyond Biden’s policies, but it is a historic figure nonetheless.
And yet, in spite of these really good economic benchmarks, 6 in 10 Americans view employment as a very or somewhat serious national problem, according to a recent YouGov poll. And chances are that the respondents who expressed concern were not thinking about a potential skilled labor shortage resulting from so many people having a job.
Of course, especially on the right, Americans are kept ignorant by design.
You won’t hear about positive economic news on Fox News, where it is all inflation, all the time. Now, mind you, inflation remains a serious issue in the US and across the globe, so of course news outlets should cover it. However, they should also not obsess about it the way the right-wing media does, especially while giving short shrift to any kind of positive news like the historically good unemployment numbers.
According to the poll, 60 percent of Republicans said that they mostly hear negative stories about the economy — 10 times more than the number of GOP voters who said they are mostly hearing positive stories (among Democrats, there is an even split).
It is baffling how successful this strategy is. Only one-third of the people polled were able to (accurately) say that the number of jobs in the US increased last month. And it wasn’t just last month. The economy has added jobs every single month since Biden took office, yet two-thirds of Americans are ignorant of that very easily verifiable fact.
And it’s not just jobs. Almost twice as many people believe the economy is shrinking than that it is growing (it is expanding).
Finally, nearly half of them said the US economy is currently in a recession (in reality, it is far from it).
This ignorance is bad for the country. An election should be a referendum on how things are actually going. For example, it is perfectly reasonable for people to say they will vote against Biden because inflation went up on his watch, if that is an issue they care more about than employment.
What is not reasonable is that so many of them are ignorant about the basic facts on which they can base their vote.