Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Washington" and Washington

The New York Times "Economix" column recently discussed the Gallup survey of economic confidence.  People in the District of Columbia were much more positive than people in any other state.  The column suggested that this fact helped to explain the gap between policy-makers and the public:  people in Washington aren't as worried about the economy.  And that's because Washington's businesses (government, lobbying, public relations) are all growing.  The article mentioned that many people who live in DC are poor and the unemployment rate is high, but didn't make much of that.  It occurred to me that there might be another factor:  views of the President.  People who support Obama might be more likely to say that the economy is doing well (or at least OK), and Obama got over 90%  of the vote in DC. 

A linear regression of the confidence index on the state unemployment rate and the percent voting for Obama in 2008 produced this:


For the District of Columbia, the unemployment rate is 10.8 and 92.5 percent of the 2008 vote went to Obama, so the predicted value is:


That's a higher predicted value than any state.  The actual value in DC is +11, which is considerably more than the predicted value, so this probably isn't the whole story.  But a major reason that the District of Columbia seems confident about the economy is that a large majority of the people who live there support Obama.  Of course, most of them aren't the "Washington" of politicians and lobbyists.  (And much of that "Washington" actually lives in Maryland or Virginia). 

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