Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Kevin Drum wonders why perception of the ideology of presidential hopefuls is systematically backwards.

First: Hillary Clinton is viewed as more liberal than Barack Obama? Both Republicans and Democrats agree about this, and, needless to say, both Republicans and Democrats are very, very wrong on this score. Apparently the power of perception is hard to break down.

[snip]

Third: Over at Ezra's place, Neil points out that John Edwards, who is arguably the most progressive candidate, is viewed as the most centrist. This is potentially good news for both progressives and for John Edwards, since it means the candidate most likely to pursue a progressive agenda once he's in office is also the candidate who's most electable.



An possible explanation of this pattern is that Clinton and Edwards are racing to the median Democratic primary voter. Clinton knows she is perceived as too far left to win the general, so she is running as a conservative. Edwards knows he is perceived to be a White man from the South, so he is running as a raging red. Each is trying to people to perceive them to be the median hopeful who will balance progressiveness and electability (AKA Barack Obama). I'd say both need extreme hair cuts.

Clearly such a pattern in a huge sample of 3 observations can easily be due to chance. I am assuming hopefuls have had private polls which give similar patterns for months now.

The point is that maybe campaign proposals are opposite of perceptions not because the public is dumber than a flipped coin, but because the candidates are all campaigning against type for strategic reasons.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

When polling gives such cliched but absurd results, then the problem is in the polling.

anne

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman, by the way, was simply raked over coals for the fine column of yesterday. The subject of trade and China in particular bring out an hostility that is as little sensible as unwarranted.

So, because I do not understand polling does not make the polling faulty because my understanding is faulty often these days.

anne

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman is of course right and is of course vastly sympathetic to American workers, but American investment in China is simply not a problem and we would do well to make it more inviting for China, as for Japan or Britain or France or Germany, to invest here. Why the focus on China can be so wrong and filled with so mcuh antipathy makes no sense to me, but I heard a BBC interviewer litterally snarled at just yesterday for not immediately agreeing with a representative of American steel companies that China was simply monstrous. The steel company representative could not have been nastier, while making absolutely no sense.

anne

Anonymous said...

http://krugman.page.nytimes.com/b/a/258224.htm

April 30, 2007

Their Profits and Ours Don't Add Up

Steve A., New York: What do you see as the impact of global capital flows on U.S. investment? While U.S. companies are booking record profits, how much of their investment is being made in the U.S. vs. overseas? If our fiscal policies benefit U.S. corporations and wealthy U.S. investors who increasingly choose to invest their profits in other countries rather than at home, what will that mean for U.S. economic growth?

Paul Krugman: A number of people have asked me this question. The short answer is that diversion of investment abroad doesn't seem to be the big story. Overall, money actually flowed into the United States last year, on a massive scale, although a lot of that was the Chinese government buying bonds. In terms of "direct foreign investment", basically investment by corporations, $249 billion went out, but $183 billion came in, so the overall effect was only about $85 billion. I know, $85 billion here, $85 billion there, and soon you're talking about real money, but it wasn't the main factor in low investment....

Anonymous said...

http://krugman.page.nytimes.com/b/a/258224.htm

April 30, 2007

Their Profits and Ours Don't Add Up

Tom Fennell, Omaha, Neb.: The column on low-profit investment failed to address what would seem to a layman like me to be a primary cause. One critical question remained unclear in the article. Are we talking about low investment in the U.S. economy, or low corporate investment by U.S. corporations? If the matter is low investment in the U.S. economy, the first explanation that comes to my mind is that profits are being invested abroad. If we are talking about low global investment by U.S. companies that is a different matter.

Still, in the end the effect may be the same. Shareholders stock is bought back and prices rise, causing an increase in wealth. Ever wealthier beneficiaries of capital gains have a greater portion of their funds available as risk capital, first and foremost investments in emerging markets. Net result: transfer of profits to emerging markets.

Your analysis of these ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Paul Krugman: OK, I answered this pretty much in an earlier reply. Adding in the overseas investment wouldn't change things that much, because foreign companies investing in the US almost make up for U.S. companies investing abroad. Worldwide, there seems to be a general shortage of investment other than in housing....

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman also makes a point I have made several times, there is a general shortage of investment funds internationally other than for housing. Economists who seem especially aware of this are Chinese, and I have often argued that China needs to be a model in infrastructure investment and to an extent it is so but not nearly enough so. Even India, growing so strongly, shows up relatively poorly in infrastructure investment, while Mexico is sadly lagging.

anne

Anonymous said...

Infrastructure investment in China continually reminds me of investment in America from, say, 1865 to 1910. And, remember as well the infrastructure development legacy from the New Deal. When I refer to such development, I am thinking much of soft as well as hard development or education investment as well as railroads to highways.

anne

Anonymous said...

Play now with some numbers, we invest about $85 billion a year more internationally than is, in turn, being invested here from abroad. But, even if we consider this an $85 billion investment deficit, the deficit is made up easily in infrastructure investment and is easily affordable knowing that we are spending more than $15 billion a month on Iraq. What then is stopping us from adding to domestic investment beyond the corporate?

anne

Anonymous said...

No; as Paul Krugman repeatedly explains and as Joseph Stiglitz has explained, American corporations are not investing disproportionately abroad and especially not in China. They just aren't, really really really not.

anne

Anonymous said...

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/05/the_china_syndr.html

May 1, 2007

Paul Krugman, via email: Well, that's weird. I've gotten a lot of comment alleging that the reason for low investment in the US is that all the money is going overseas, especially to China - and quite a lot of the comment was vituperative: I'm an idiot, I don't anything about the real world, etc. etc. I've gotten accustomed to that sort of thing from the right - in fact, I feel like a failure if I don't get accused of being a liar and a traitor after each column - but what's going on here? Anyway, a note on the numbers. As I already pointed out at the Times, almost as much direct foreign investment is coming into the US as is going out. But what really amazes me is the China obsession. China is a huge export machine, and I take the impact of Chinese exports on US workers quite seriously. But it is not, repeat not, a major destination of US corporate investment. Look at the BEA numbers: http://www.bea.gov/international/datatables/usdctry/usdctry.htm. China is only about 1 percent of the total stock of US direct investment abroad, less than $20 billion. Oh, and one fallacy I've seen confidently asserted is that FDI doesn't count retained earnings. Sorry, but it does. There are some real questions about mismeasurement of the overall investment position - dark matter and all that - but there's no way you can make the case that corporations are taking all their profits and putting it into China.

anne