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Americans are stunningly ignorant when it comes to the actual performance of the US economy, with about half of them holding views that are the opposite of reality.

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“It’s the economy, stupid.” These words, which Democratic strategist James Carville uttered in 1992, have become one of the most iconic political phrases of the past 50 years.

Working for then-Gov. Bill Clinton, who won the presidency that year, Carville wanted to stress to his staff that a focus on the economy should be a central tenet of the campaign.

Fast forward 32 years and, once again, the words “economy” and “stupid” will figure prominently in a US presidential race… just in a slightly different way. And, to be fair to Americans, “stupid” should probably be replaced with “ignorant.”

As always, the economy is a major issue this year, and, so far, voters believe that Donald Trump, who managed to somehow bankrupt even casinos and whose Truth Social platform generated a mere $770,000 in the first quarter, is better equipped to handle it.

There are a couple of major reasons for that. One is that, while Trump is barnstorming swing states in an effort to gaslight his supporters into believing that his presidency was a success, Fox News is telling potential voters that the economy is in shambles.

The other is that Americans believe them.

This isn’t to say that people can’t have legitimate reasons to prefer Trump over President Joe Biden on the economy.

Billionaires who want tax breaks or oil companies who don’t want to comply with pesky environmental regulations, for example.

And it is true that higher-than-usual inflation is a concern for many Americans, so it makes sense that they want to try something different.

Trump’s proposed policies would certainly be different. He wants to jack up prices through tariffs (which make imported goods more expensive), lowering interest rates (although higher rates are a major weapon in the fight against inflation), lowering taxes (which would increase consumer demand and likely also lead to higher prices), and deport undocumented immigrants (which would deprive employers of a cheap source of labor… or any labor, for that matter. This would, once again, lead to higher prices).

However, it would not be possible to gaslight Americans so effectively if they actually knew what was going on in their own country.

A new Harris poll conducted for The Guardian found that voters are stunningly ignorant when it comes to the overall performance of the US economy.

More than half of them believe that it is shrinking (it is not) or even in a recession (also not). And, even though the Dow Jones just reached 40,000 points for the first time ever, and although the S&P 500 is up 12 percent this year (and has grown by one-third since the start of 2023), just about half of Americans think that stocks are down.

Finally (and perhaps most stunningly), while the employment rate has been below 4 percent for more than two years (another record), 49 percent of Americans falsely believe that unemployment is actually at a 50-year high.

If he were running Biden’s campaign, Carville would be pulling his hair out (Editor’s Note: That’s an insider joke).

Now don’t get us wrong, if people think they would be better off under Trump, then they should vote for him. However, that decision should be based on facts, not some fantasy he and the vast right-wing propaganda network have concocted.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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