What Mattered This Week

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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This is a weekly Saturday feature looking back on the week. I don't define "mattered" -- something can matter, or not, in lots of different ways! So feel free to interpret or dispute as you see fit.

I'm picking one event I've already written about just to underscore its importance: The confirmation of Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chairman, along with the three new Fed nominees, really does matter both to the economy and, therefore, to future elections. A big deal.

What didn't matter? I'll go with the Gallup Poll finding that slightly more people self-identify as liberals, something which got a bit of buzz yesterday. I really don't think it makes much of a difference whether people who hold conventionally liberal views self-identify as liberals or not, and what's almost certainly happening here is shifts along those lines, rather than blocs of voters actually changing their views or political behavior. It's also possible it's just random survey noise, and meaningless.

Americans have long been more likely to self-identify as conservative than as liberal, although other measures (issue positions, big-picture ideological principles) show basically a rough balance. Party identification runs the other way: Democrats usually have a small edge in self-identification, but that fades to rough parity once partisans who self-identify as independents are included. As far as I'm concerned, the self-identification really doesn't matter.

At any rate: That's what I have. What have you noticed? What do you think mattered this week?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net