Michael Barone's column today points out that people see the economy based on their partisan leanings:
"Then, after the election of George W. Bush, the divergence between the two parties expanded into a chasm. It began to widen during the recession of March-November 2001, and it widened much more as the economy recovered and resumed low-inflation growth. By early 2006, a time of vibrant economic growth, 56 percent of Republicans said the economy was excellent or good, while only 28 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats agreed. We have seen similar responses in the years since, although the percentage of Republicans rating the economy positively has dropped somewhat since the subprime mortgage crisis and the decline in housing prices during the second half of 2007. As the Pew Research Center points out, Democrats and Republicans of similar income levels gave sharply different ratings of the economy.
There is a divergence here between Democrats’ and independents’ assessments of their personal economic condition, which have generally been positive, and their assessments of the economy as a whole. It’s hard to resist the conclusion that when Democrats—and, in 2004-2006, independents—were responding to questions about the condition of the economy, they were actually responding, “I am a Democrat,” or, more emphatically, “I hate George W. Bush.”