So there has been a lot of chuckling over Scott Walker’s suggestion that his office is going to produce its own statistics.
This is important to me because it highlights a couple of things.
First off what does it mean to “create 250K jobs.” I am going to tell you that it means that the latest revision to the BLS payroll series shows that your state has 250K more jobs than it did when you made the announcement and that there simply is no reality beyond that.
I know that this weirds a lot of people out and if that is too much to handle then perhaps its better to think in terms of how we define “jobs” We could say there is a BLS definition of jobs, a Unemployment Insurance definition of “jobs”, a household survey definition of “jobs” and then reality.
Since we can’t measure reality directly we have to agree to be talking about one of these other measures or we are going to wind up just talking past each other.
However you can settle it in your mind, the point is that we need to agree on definitions and standards for measurement up front or we are going to be in for a world of confusion.
Second, I am beginning to think I must be wrong on this – given how different my intuition is from everyone else’s and the paucity of direct evidence that I have – however, my baseline assumption has always been that the undecided voter bases his or her opinion of the economy on what he or she experiences directly or through friends and family.
Are their really lots of voters who would be swayed by statistics? Maybe there are. Or perhaps, its about controlling the narrative. Lots of bad statistics give journalists a license to talk trash about you and this contributes to a general since of “failure” hanging around your administration?
I don’t know, but I am puzzled at the extent to which even a working administration would be focused on pure numbers rather than speaking to the lived experience of voters.