The Times Favor Obama/Biden

5 Oct

We’ve reached that time – the last month, mercifully! – when invective-laden rhetoric starts streaking the campaign battlefield like battery fire. Michael van der Galien launches a salvo: “The Democratic ticket is one straight out of hell. Neither Biden nor Obama have what it takes to lead the U.S.”. I beg to differ.

Firstly, economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research don’t think a President Obama a bad deal.


A survey of academic economists by The Economist finds the majority—at times by overwhelming margins—believe Mr Obama has the superior economic plan, a firmer grasp of economics and will appoint better economic advisers.

Our survey is not, by any means, a scientific poll of all economists. We e-mailed a questionnaire to 683 research associates, all we could track down, of the National Bureau of Economic Research, America’s premier association of applied academic economists, though the NBER itself played no role in the survey. A total of 142 responded, of whom 46% identified themselves as Democrats, 10% as Republicans and 44% as neither. This skewed party breakdown may reflect academia’s Democratic tilt, or possibly Democrats’ greater propensity to respond. Still, even if we exclude respondents with a party identification, Mr Obama retains a strong edge—though the McCain campaign should be buoyed by the fact that 530 economists have signed a statement endorsing his plans.

Secondly, as much I agree with certain McCain positions – freer trade, immigration, and half of health care reform – a Republican presidency is an endorsement for divided government. As a pragmatic centrist, I recognize 2009 is a year for reform – combining a Diocletian-inspired approach to structural problems with a Gracchi-like sensitivity to welfare. If infrastructure reform in energy and transportation, social security, health care, and education were not pressing enough, now there’s financial sector reform. McCain might get my vote in a plump year.

Thirdly, Senator McCain’s decisions to nominate Governor Sarah Palin for his running mate and his impetuous, flip-flopping actions during the past weeks of the Wall Street debacle just frighten me.

Lastly, as a guide, I offer also The Economist‘s special section on the 2008 elections. That publication has not itself endorsed any candidate yet.

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