Trump, Barn, Licking County, OH
"Trump" painted on barn in rural Licking County, OH. Photo credit: Dan Keck / Flickr

When it comes to the economy, Americans won't let facts get in the way of the Fox News narrative.

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When it comes to the performance of the US economy and how ordinary people are faring in it, the views of Americans are skewed away from reality and toward pessimism. On any number of indicators, they believe that the economy is doing much more poorly than it is in actuality. 

For example, they falsely believe that inflation is still on the rise, that prices have gone up faster than wages, and that Americans are getting poorer rather than richer.  Many of these erroneous perceptions are steeped in politics and what US consumers are being told. Especially in right wing media, the narrative is that the economy is underperforming, and every day viewers are bombarded with stories about how one thing or another is now more expensive than four years ago.

And it is true that inflation has been a global problem. However, in the US it is much less of an issue than elsewhere. And while people elsewhere in the world have a pretty level-headed view of their own economies, the same is not true in the US. For example, 51 percent of Americans believe that unemployment is higher today than it was thirty years ago, when in reality there are now more jobs than at any point in history. 

In addition, very positive indicators are simply dismissed. For example, in the third quarter, the US economy grew at a sizzling 5.2 percent. That’s the kind of growth many of America’s peer nations can only hope for. 

Heightened partisan politics also play a role in this discrepancy between perception and reality. Republicans are simply unwilling to acknowledge that anything is going well under President Joe Biden. That being said, it should be noted that presidents generally get too much of both credit and blame for economic conditions over which they have little control. 

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump is painting an incredibly rosy picture of unprecedented prosperity during his presidency that is not at all based in reality. But that doesn’t matter to his supporters. If Trump tells them that they were never doing better than when he was in office, they will just believe him. 

However, as these recent polling results show, that doesn’t work nearly as well for Biden, who is trying to sell voters on “Bidenomics” and how they benefit from it. For now, American voters tend to buy the fictitious narrative of economic hardships rather than more fact-based picture of how the country is doing. 


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