The Economist is reality-based

Switches from Bush four years ago to Kerry now.

The Economist, which endorsed Bush in 2000, switches to Kerry in 2004. |n one sense that’s surprising, since the editors mostly agree with Mr. Bush on the issues, especially with respect to Iraq, and don’t think very much of his opponent.

But in another way it’s not surprising at all. I don’t always agree with The Economist, but it is easily the most reality-based of the major media outlets, and its editors naturally regard separation from reality as a major character flaw:

…. America needs a president capable of admitting to mistakes and of learning from them. Mr Bush has steadfastly refused to admit to anything … as Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability. He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him.

Deciding that the candidate who is naturally your guy is just too much of a turkey to vote for is always tough. But the editors of The Economist did it. My sense is that lots of reality-based folks on the right are doing the same thing. That helps explain why there there are lots of newspapers switching from Bush 2000 to Kerry 2004 or to neutrality, and very few Gore-supporting papers switching the other way.

It may also explain why Kerry has a much bigger lead among those with advanced degrees than Gore had four years ago. (Can someone supply a cite for that? I read it a couple of days ago.) On the other hand, there are advantages to denying reality, too: Bush has a much larger lead among those with less than a high school education than he had four years ago.

There’s no obvious social-class reason why this should be true; my guess is that it means that those who care most about reality, and have the most interior and exterior resources for figuring out what’s going on in the world, are leaving Bush, while those most easily fooled are moving toward him.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com