The Guilfoile-Warner Papers

October 7

According to a new CNN poll, 60% of us think an economic depression is "likely." This is one of those classic news polls where they ask a bunch of random people a question they couldn't possibly know the answer to so they can breathlessly announce the results on the air. It's a marketing tool that demonstrates how upside-down the news business is. Most companies want to use optimism to promote their products. For instance you'd never see the tag line, Pontiac: A car for the prolonged economic downturn. But news ratings go up when people are anxious, so news organizations love to poll people about how anxious they are, which makes the rest of us more anxious and causes us to watch more television news. Never mind that 6 out of 10 people couldn't even give you a decent definition of an economic depression beyond "It's the reason my grandparents can't throw out any of their crap." A far more meaningful question would have been, "Aren't you totally losing your shit every time you turn on the radio?" Whatever the question the answers are more bad news for McCain, who is going to become increasingly desperate over the next month. All of us should expect the economy to get worse before it gets better, but those of us praying for an Obama win can expect this campaign to get nastier before it gets over. The good news, at least according to the analysis over at 538, is that the polls show more middle-class voters are identifying with Obama which means, in theory, that they will perceive attacks on Obama as attacks on them, creating a kind of Obama's rubber and McCain's glue phenomenon. Not to get my hopes up, but it worked for Reagan. It worked for Clinton. If I can end on an up note, some polls have shown that as many as 40% of Americans (and 100% of Republican running mates) believe the world will end in our lifetimes. Maybe the 60% only expecting a depression are optimists after all.
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