If you haven't heard, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has commissioned a survey of professional economists. His explicit hope is to raise the quality of policy:
So how does a voter decide which candidate would be best for the economy?
Forgive me for not caring what your grandma thinks of NAFTA. I want to know which economic policies seem best according to the majority of economists. I got tired of waiting for someone else to give me some useful information and decided to go get it myself. [I sent him a copy of my book, but I assume it got filtered out. -B.C.]
I woke up this morning with the strange feeling that I might own the most important information in the world. Although 90% of voters have made up their mind, the race is so tight that the remaining 10% will settle things. If the media reports the results of my survey of economists, will it influence independent voters and thus the arrow of history? Probably not. But you can't rule it out.
I'm particularly pleased to see that Adams is trying hard to be more elitist than me:
But if you ignore the opinions of 500 economists you are either a well-informed genius who needs no advice, or an idiot who doesn't realize it would be helpful.
If you know anything about the econ profession, it's clear that Obama will crush McCain. After all, the typical economist is a moderate Democrat; he just happens to be a moderate Democrat who thinks that downsizing has important long-run economic benefits.
The real contribution of an Adams-like survey is the information it provides about economists' specific policy views. NAFTA, for example, enjoys economists' bipartisan support. If the public merely deferred to policies enjoying such support, we'd live in a very different and vastly better world.
The results from Adams' survey aren't yet in, and I've heard some complaints about his questions. Even so, I'm excited to see how his survey of economists turns out.