(Change in) the (future) Economy

New article by Christopher Wlezien (and Stuart Soroka and Dominik Stecula), forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science:

“It’s (Change in) the (Future) Economy, Stupid: Economic Indicators, the Media, and Public Opinion”


Economic perceptions affect policy preferences and government support. It thus matters that these perceptions are driven by factors other than the economy, including media coverage. We nevertheless know little about how media reflect economic trends, and whether they influence (or are influenced by) public economic perceptions. This article explores the economy, media, and public opinion, focusing in particular on whether media coverage and the public react to changes in or levels of economic activity, and the past, present, or future economy. Analyses rely on content-analytic data drawn from 30,000 news stories over 30 years in the United States. Results indicate that coverage reflects change in the future economy, and that this both influences and is influenced by public evaluations. These patterns make more understandable the somewhat surprising finding of positive coverage and public assessments in the midst of the Great Recession. They also may help explain previous findings in political behavior.