NYT: Conservatives Deny ‘Objective Reality’ on Economy during Midterms

Conservative ‘mucking up’ facts, won’t vote for liberals because of partisanship.

Global warming proponents started calling opponents climate-change deniers. Liberals could add economic-recovery deniers to their phrasebook next.

Despite the “objective reality” of an economic recovery this year, columnist Lynn Vavreck wrote this will not impact the midterm election. Posting on The New York Times’ The Upshot blog on Nov. 3, 2014, Vavreck incorrectly implied that conservatives deny this recovery is occurring because they view the facts through “partisan lenses.”

This bias, Vavreck said, led conservatives to vote against liberals because conservatives unfairly blame the president for the country’s economic condition. Vavreck noted that the economy grew 3.5 percent between July and September, baffled that anyone could doubt the president’s economic agenda is working.

“This growth — as robust as it is — is unlikely, however, to influence how the president’s party fares this week at the polls,” Vavreck wrote. She urged her readers, “The next time you think you’re judging an objective reality, stop and ask yourself whether your partisan lenses are on — or off.”

While Vavreck is correct that numerous statistics point to an economic recovery, she failed to mention that many households are still experiencing very real economic pain.

For example, at least 46 million Americans have relied on food stamps for the last 35 straight months, a fact largely ignored by the media. A record 20 percent of households received food stamps last year, and spending on the program more than doubled.

While unemployment fell by some measures in recent months, the jobs situation was much more dismal upon closer inspection. Even the liberal Los Angeles Times reported on Sep. 10, 2014, that an unprecedented 3 million people were still suffering from long-term unemployment. Don Lee, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, said that “the number and share of people out of work for more than six months, the so-called long-term unemployed, remain at historically high levels.”

Many of these individuals are simply dropping out of the workforce entirely. “The economy has been plagued by a declining labor force in recent years,” Josh Zumbrun, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, wrote on Oct. 6, 2014. Proportionally fewer Americans were looking for work than at any time since 1978, Business Insider reported on Oct. 3, 2014. Only 62.7 percent of voters were actively seeking work.

It is also harder for middle-class Americans to afford the “American Dream,” with their incomes and net worth decreasing. The Daily Mail said in an article on Oct. 22, 2014, “America's middle class is less wealthy in 2014 than at any other time since the 1940s.”

The economic recovery is stagnant for millions of Americans. They have a credible reason not to vote for the president’s party, but Vavreck would likely write them off as partisans naysayers for doing so.

“It turns out that what’s mucking up the relationship between the actual economy and people’s opinions about it is partisanship,” claimed Vavreck.

Pesky partisanship. If everyone could just agree that President Barack Obama has done a phenomenal job setting economic policy, voters would have a much easier time deciding to vote for liberals.

But the reality is that many middle-class Americans are just too smart to buy Vavreck’s arguments. They know from their daily experiences the “actual economy” still has a long way to go before the recovery is complete.