I was surprised at how little attention my Dilbert Survey of Economists got from the media. It did well on the Internet, finding a prominent place on CNN.com, then getting picked up by Reuters, BusinessWire, MarketWatch.com, Yahoo, Dilbert.com obviously, and tons of blogs. But it didn't get any play with television, radio, or newspapers. Why not?

Several people with knowledge of the media told me the survey "wasn't biased enough." Democrats and Republicans in the survey mostly stuck to the party line. Obama had the most support from economists, by far, but there are more Democratic economists in the country, and in the survey, also by far. To my knowledge, no one has ever studied why that is.

Today the headlines tell us that Obama is pulling ahead in the polls because likely voters have more confidence that he can handle the economic crisis compared to McCain.


In other words, public opinion is starting to line up with the opinion of economists. Did the Dilbert Survey of Economists have any impact on that move?

The biggest reason for the move in the polls probably has to do with McCain's support of Republican policies that are widely seen as the source of the problem.

Second, the financial problem is complicated. The only thing we ignorant voters know for sure is that we want someone with a high IQ to sort out this mess on our behalf. No matter how much you love McCain's philosophy, track record, moral compass, common sense, or anything else about him, he doesn't come close to Obama in pure brain power. For most issues, that probably doesn't make much difference. For an issue of this complexity, it might.

Third, I think the Dilbert Survey of Economists probably had some impact, at least with the free thinkers of the Internet. A lot of people, including me, assumed before the survey that most professional economists would lean Republican. The fact that so many economists are Democrats, and support Obama, is both a surprise and hard to ignore.

I wouldn't have funded the survey if I didn't have this blog. And I wouldn't have this blog if people didn't leave comments. So if the Dilbert Survey of Economists ends up changing the world, and you have ever left a comment here, you were part of something important.

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-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
XX EE: "Addlepated"! I love it! That's a term you don't hear often these days, but God...it fits so well!!

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
First, I'd like to know where you apparant statement of fact that Obama is smarter than McCain comes from.

Second, while I think that your survey was a good attempt to do something to help voters, I don't think it would sway anybody because it was so one sided in it's ratio of D's to R's. Even the Independents said if they had to vote on the day of the study it would be for Obama. So in my opinion your sample group was flawed. I would have liked to see an equal number of respondants from each party surveyed because then any cross party jump would be a more clear cut favorite. If you had 100 R's 100 D's and 100 I's you would come out with a more clear and unbiased result. What you proved is that most democrats favor Obama's policies, and most republicans favor McCains. I'm sorry Scott but it seems you wasted your money on this one. I do thank you for the effort though.
Sep 24, 2008
Let's see, the Republicans are responsible for this because: They don't control congress, which makes the laws, and they didn't make laws to stop poor stupid people from living their dream of owning a home they couldn't afford. Curse them for not micro-managing our economy, we need someone who will. THAT will fix everything!
-6 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
There's a chance that, while the corporate media wouldn't cover the study as a story, their journalists may still have read about it. In that sense, there may be some indirect effect.

I also agree that it is surprising that so many economists are Democrats rather than Republicans; I'd have expected the reverse.

And, yes, I agree that McCain doesn't come close to Obama in sheer brain power. Of course, McCain himself is promoting that image by adopting Bush's addlepated accent and pauses -- I can hardly tell them apart any more when I hear them on the radio -- and by choosing Mrs. Palin as his running mate.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
While I don't have any speculation to offer about the whys or why-nots...

I will say that I, too, was surprised it didn't get more (read "any") non-internet media coverage--none that I saw/heard, anyway.

I listen to NPR on the way to work every morning, and by that time they've usually got the BBC World News on. All week I listened and I was genuinely surprised (and even a bit disappointed) that the survey didn't even earn a mention from them. Considering that the BBC's subject matter typically covers the spectrum from very heavy-gravity pieces to things that most people (at least in the U.S.) would consider silly and pointless, I would have FULLY expected the Dilbert Economist Survey to have fit in there SOMEwhere.

Shame on me for not dropping them a note to say "hey, you guys should check this out..."
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
I see that Scott Adams may participate in the vice presidential debates Oct 2nd. Than again maybe this is a fictional site I'm reading, y-2008.com. Still, wouldn't it be a blast to see Scott take on Palin the Simple and Biden the Blowhard? Go for it Scott.
Sep 24, 2008
"Mccain...doesn't come close to Obama in pure brain power."
I guess I missed something somewhere, but on what basis is Obama's IQ rated so highly? And rated so highly compared to Mccain's?
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