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.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +7
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Sep 24, 2008


I have been following your blog for some and like your style.

Another writer, David Foster Wallace, whom I admired died on Sept 12, apparently committing suicide. He was apparently suffering from depression, but it might just have been the television, or the Large Hadron Collider, who knows?

I bring this up because I think he came close to matching your ‘acerbic wit’ (you just need to read the first essay from the collection ‘Consider The Lobsters’ to see what I mean).

David Foster Wallace was one of the brightest brains of our times, better known as the author of ‘Infinite Jest’, a 1000 page work of fiction, I think he will be equally remembered for his essays.

One of his essays, based on his experience of covering John McCain's presidential campaign in 2000, became a chapter in his essay collection "Consider the Lobster" (2005); the essay has now been issued as a stand-alone book, "McCain's Promise.” However, in an interview with WSJ, he said he rejected the premise of the essay and said it was ‘heavily context-dependent’, and ‘And that context now seems a long, long, long time ago.’ In an answer to the questions “What parallels do you see between McCain in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008?”, he said, “there are some similarities—the ability to attract new voters, Independents; the ability to raise serious money in a grassroots way via the Web. But there are also lots of differences, many too obvious to need pointing out….”.

I think, he made it pretty plain whom he supported this time around. I changed my mind after reading this interview. I am not surpised that the Dilbert Survey of Economists is also pointing in a similar direction.
Because I am not an American, my vote doesn’t count, but I do think that DFW was an important American thinker and, so are you.

Abhay Vohra

Sep 24, 2008
I have absolutely NOTHING important to add. However, speaking as a man who capitilizes too much, I would feel a fool for not being a part of something that had a chance, however small, of being massively important. By posting this I feel I have contributed as much as all the other posters who also added nothing intelligent, or just said something that had already been said better. [I have no doubt that there is a post similar to this further up the list, although in keeping with the overall, internet attitude of glory without effort I did not check.] If you are one of the other incosequential posters, keep in mind that I, with perhaps even less effort than you, contributed exactly as much to society as you did today, and, if the Lord reads this blog, I may be remebered in heaven for also saving this election.
Sep 24, 2008
I've discovered a great buzz on the internet over the last few weeks that the residents of planet Earth are about to discover on October 14, 2008 that we are not alone in the universe. That an extraterrestrial spaceship of unimaginable size will be seen above our planet for a total of three days. At that moment everything will forever change on this world. We will start down a path that we currently can not fathom. Each of us might then consider ourselves privileged to have been alive to witness this event and to have been living through these times. How will you respond? Will you be frightened? Panic stricken? awed? inspired? elated? Take just a moment and imagine what that moment would be like. We may be about to take a quantum leap in our evolution as a species.
Then again a few of us may have just had a major brain cramp.
Sep 24, 2008
Scott, I generally agree with your logic and even when you ramble about things esoteric I love to have my space expanded by your thoughts.....(and you know it was coming) but how on earth can you ascribe a HIGH IQ to Barack....First of all hes a freaking lawyer...that takes points away right there...But really, you have no evidence of his IQ and nothing hes said or done would lead a reasonable person to assume that hes anything but of average intelligence...just like McCain....If you examine IQ, and people of varying IQs you have to concur that there are certain jobs that require a certain IQ, but dont benefit at all by a higher one...and it may even distract....(and I give you as evidence, Jimmy Carter)...Lets not perpetuate the common liberal belief espoused by Tim Russerts son that liberals are smarter.....they arent....!
Sep 24, 2008
Just because Obama can read a speech ---what is the reason anyone thinks he has a high IQ? He won't release his grades or anything from the Harvard Law School.

Thanks for doing the survey, very interesting.

I think we have to hit bottom very hard before the majority recognizes it is unconstitutional to steal from the minority.

Good luck to us all.
Sep 24, 2008
Oh, man...Scott Adams on the Colbert Report? That would be fantastic.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
I saved the powerpoint at the time the survey was released, but only read it a couple of days ago. I was interested by the economists giving advice to Obama along the lines of "avoid regulating the financial system". I wonder at the differences in the survey if it had been conducted this week instead of some time ago...
Sep 24, 2008
I read economists survey on cnn.com. I have to say that I was upset that you would support John Mccain because he wouldn't tax you as much and that the surge is working. We should have never gone to war in the first place and you are now be part of the elite that doesn't have to pay taxes like the rest of us. WTF? I did appreciate the survey to show the biases that everyone has. People need to have more open minds in this country. I have lost my job because of outsourcing but I am against abortion so I am a strong republican! WTF? Come on people!!!
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
Try this:
It's sure to be an eye opener for some of you.


Some of you are quite moronic.
Sep 24, 2008
Well, every country has the government, which it deserve. "High brain power" with zero life experience - LO! That is true Leader... (Not that the other side would be so much better...). And, such a nice country it used to be :(

Sep 24, 2008
I don't think I've posted on this blog before, but I feel I should say "Thank you" for this. The survey must have taken a lot of time, effort and money. Thanks.
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
I’m against the $85,000,000, 000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000, 000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18 . Our population is about 301,000,000 /- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18 into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00. My plan is to give $425,0 00 to every person 18 as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax-free. So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18 has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000, 000 right back to Uncle Sam. But it means that every adult 18 has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000 .00. What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family? Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved. Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads - put away money for college - it’ll be there save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car - create jobs invest in the market - capital drives growth pay for your parent’s medical insurance - health care improves enable Deadbe at Dads to come clean - or else.

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18 including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it…instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( “vote buy” ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18!

As for AIG - liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up. Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.” But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom? I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.

And remember, The Family plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

(this is not original to me, I got it in my email)
Sep 24, 2008

Now McCain wants out from Friday's debate to 'focus on the financial crisis'...Just after surveys show he's looking bad compared to Obama in this situation. Damage control Buying time Keep Palin from journalists = ?

Poor republicans. They hold a convention, and Ike comes thrashing through. And now that pesky crisis is in the way of a debate. Hope they don't take it personal.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
One thing that nobody talks about with all this housing mortgage defaulting and bank crisis is that - What about the people who bought houses during the 2005 - 2007 period when prices were so highly inflated . These are the people who still continue to pay the excessive mortgage even though their house prices have drastically fallen. Who will bail out these people. Will someone insure that the $700 billion bail out will include a re-pricing of their current houses and re-calculation of their mortgage so that they don't continue to pay the exorbitant costs for a fallen housing market.
These inflated housing prices are never going up again.

These honest, hardworking people are paying the price with no one to bail them out. Instead its double jeopardy with knowing that its unfair and still paying.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
Hmmm... so you think that the electorate that elected George W Bush TWICE will cast their votes on the basis of which candidate has the most "brain power"? I really wish that was true, but I'm struggling to see any evidence of it on the basis of past form.
Sep 24, 2008
Dear Adams,

What happened to Dogbert´s ruling class? I was already subscribed to that. I´m your fan from Paraguay, (not american, paraguayan) and I´m sending you this comment from the middle of nowhere, literally, as a matter of fact I can send you Google Earth coordinates if interested) I´m 70 kmts aways from the nearest asphalt road, and about 30 kmts away from the closest mobile phone signal, but I have satellite Internet, and acres and acres of marijuana, so I don´t need much as you can see (i live in an 18000 acre property). So, by this way, I´ve managed to read all the details about your Economist Poll. Right before you sent up the air the results of the poll you already warned uss about the timing issue. The bank catastrophe obviusly took a lot of air time everywhere. Another factor for not having much radio or tv attention could also have to do with the fact that you warned that you cant talk. Maybe kinda difficult to interview by email with no sound.( theyve should use text to speech for this cases, you would sound a bit like Stephen Hawkings). Have you tried some pot to cure your voice talking problem?? a good joint gets you talking. Back to the economist survey, definitely the most interesting finding is that there are more Democrat economist. Would this hold at national level? BTW, if most american economist are democrats how comes the economy its doing like that? I think Obama will allow that descicions from the majority of economists, to actually be converted into policies. Another solution for you economy woes is stopping the war on cannabis, legalize it and tax it. ANd Obama will do that also. Adams, i think that this survey is very important for the whole world because US economy affects the whole world.

Un abrazo from the forest of Paraguay,

paraguayan pothead living in a place quite like Elbonia
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
To DiscomBob
You wrote:
"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?

McCain picked as a running mate Palin, a born again peebrain who thinks that the world began 6000 years ago. Do you really want to have that cretin with her hands on the nukes?
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
My conclusion (from the poll and your own comments) was that I was deluding myself and I don't give a damn about the economy when choosing a candidate. Both parties have the same goal in mind (a strong economy), so will choose economic advisors who broadly agree and probably actually do more or less as good a job.

I imagine the same goes for crime and education as well. Health is a different matter because that seems to be an argument over whether Americans prefer lower taxes or better health care for the poor.
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 24, 2008
Not only was I part of something important, but I have been in Alaska once, and there are people there who can see Russia, so I am also part of that whole Soviet foreign policy experience. Oh, and I've purchased products that have come from China.

BTW, I find defense for McCain regarding Fannie and Freddie hilarious, when his campaign manager's firm was getting money from them for lobbying. Sure, maybe Rick himself wasn't lobbying, but there's no daylight between him and HIS OWN firm, and no daylight between him and McCain. Republicans love to make these tenuous connections between Obama and Rezko and Ayers, and yes, there are some slight ones.

But having lobbyists running your campaign while you run on a platform of reform? Republican, please. Try to imagine the froth you guys would be in if Rick Davis somehow were running Obama's campaign instead.
Sep 24, 2008
Is the shift in polls caused by
a) The fact that most democratic economists support Obama which your poll has shown?
b) The fact that Obama looks most likely to funnel government funds to average Americans during a recession?
c) The ramp down from the GOP convention spike?

With the amount of headlines dedicated to the economy I would lean towards b... no offense intended. When money is tight, folks stop caring about principles of limited government and start caring about which candidate is most likely to look out for my families day to day well being.

As Tytler commented many years ago

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury….”

Doesn’t Obama fit this quote ? With more and more bad news daily, the average citizen is looking for the candidate who will have his back.

GeekHeretic – Backwoods of NY
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog