Today, few voters remember the 1930s; the median-age voter has lived all his adult life in a period when low inflation economic growth has become the norm. Voters take a good economy for granted and are enraged by any irritation. But who is to blame? The subprime mortgage crisis was brought about by policies encouraging home ownership supported by George W. Bush and members of Congress of both parties. Monetary policy is made by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has bipartisan support.
Polls suggest votes are not moving in response to local economic conditions. Recent polls in Michigan, the No. 1 state in unemployment, show John McCain running even with Barack Obama, even though George W. Bush lost the state by 3 percent in 2004. And Obama is running much stronger than John Kerry did in Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states with very low unemployment.
But then Obama is advocating fiscal and trade policies -- higher taxes on high earners, more protectionism -- which are the opposite of John F. Kennedy's and the same as Herbert Hoover's. Yes, the economy matters in politics, but not in the way it used to.