Last week Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball was perplexed by the contradiction between poll results that reported a startlingly negative response to the “are you better off” question,” and positive ones that President Obama was trusted more to handle the economy. How could someone who was asked these two questions at the same time in the same poll give such incompatible answers?
The answer is that the question is not perceived now as it originally was when Bill Clinton (actually Ronald Reagan), first asked it. At that time the unambiguous context of the question was economic. Honest commentators, assuming the original economic context and themselves understanding that the economy is obviously better now, couldn’t understand it when people answered that they are not better off. But an economic context is not inherent in the question.
I believe that people are answering this question in a general sense.
Of course, many assume the original economic context, but you don’t have to. Especially if you are personally better off (but not necessarily), you could easily hold that President Obama is more capable of handling the economy than Mitt Romney, and at the same time feel worse off.
■Consider the political conditions in our country having little prospect, only hope for improvement.
■It will be difficult or impossible for you to vote this time around due to voter restriction programs.
■You find your world so darkened by the end of “Don’t ask don’t tell;” some people living their lives the way they want to, but you don’t want them to; or stuck forever in a bleak world since Obama. and no way back!
These are just a few. The list could go on and on!