By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Most of us are perfectly capable of making up our own minds about what we see in a political debate. But over the years researchers have found that a significant number of voters form their post-debate opinions from what they read, see and hear others saying about it after the fact.

So I spent some time wading through the post-debate spin, fortunately with heavy boots on. And while I saw some real nonsense coming from both sides, one remark stood out.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said “I saw Hillary Clinton give a polished, well-rehearsed defense of the status quo, which seven out of ten Americans don’t like.”

The speaker didn’t specify, but I assume he’s referring to the common poll question: Is the country going in the right direction or on the wrong track?

Wrong track is a perennial winner. But gauging actual public optimism is more complicated than that.

The new WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst Poll shows that here in Massachusetts, more than six-in-ten of us believe the country is on the wrong track.

But it’s a virtual tie when asked the same question about Massachusetts. Could it be that the right direction/wrong track number is like the way we view Congress – we hate ’em all, except our own congressman, who we almost always re-elect?

President Obama’s approval rating has been in positive territory for months now, and many economic indicators have been on the rise. Gas is cheap. For most Americans, life isn’t quite as bad as some claim it is.

That’s the gamble Donald Trump is making, that there’s enough discontent to sweep him into office. In 42 days, we’ll see if his bet pays off.

Comments (12)
  1. mikey says:

    “It is the worst economic and political environment that I’ve ever been remotely related to” ~ Alan Greenspan

    That’s encouraging.

  2. mstarvin says:

    Economically worse off. We have race relations on the verge of riots, terror attacks within the US are common place. We pay ransom to sponsors of terror like Iran and NOBODY fears our military any longer. We have politicians, like Hillary, caught red-handed committing felonies and the “justice” department under Obama’s third-world banana republic does nothing.

    1. The Owl says:

      You forgot to include, Marvin, an out-of-control national debt that has doubled in the past eight years.

      Or, the trillions of dollars dumped into the economy by the Federal Reserve that needs either to be withdrawn from the economy or made to disappear by inflation.

      1. bees_knees_6 says:

        Let’s see….He has not doubled. He has added just north of 70 percent. Now of that 70 percent what portion went to expenses incurred in everything related to the illegal entry into Iraq? However, let’s look a tad further since this seems to be something that is upsetting you, Owl. Does this make Obama a horrific president as you seem to believe he is? If so, what does that say of Bush one at 80 percent and Bush 2 at 110 percent? And my goodness does Reagan tripling the debt make him beyond horrific.

  3. Sy Clops says:

    “For most Americans, life isn’t quite as bad as some claim it is.”

    Very true.

    There are some people who just plain want things to be bad, while ignoring how truly bad things were 8 years ago. (A completely collapsed economy, America bleeding away $trillions and thousands of lives in lost wars in two countries).

    Yes, there are still the losers who don’t do so well in this country. Most of them never will. The world changes and some people can’t keep up. It has always been that way. It always will be.
    No xenophobic or protectionist policy will ever change that.

  4. bees_knees_6 says:

    I remember the violence and protests of the 60s. It was a horrific time. I remember hate for law enforcement to the point where even small, quiet suburbs installed bullet proof glass at the main entrance. What some fought for was blurred and questionable. What others fought for was the end of war and racism and prejudice. Perhaps, just perhaps, that is the difference. We have always had liars and manipulators at our helm. Jefferson is a perfect example. And that is far from acceptable. However, now, we have a potential president who preys on fear, prejudice and racism —- the reverse of what many tried to move past in the 1960s. So perhaps this is, in fact, the worst of times.

    1. paul dowd says:

      I don’t think this is the worst of times for US but I do believe we’ll get there in January ’17 if Trump is elected. If voters pick him then we are saying that fear of each other, prejudice, racism and all of his other faults are fine with us and should openly embraced by us all. We’ll throw away any progress we’ve made against those dark demons that are kept alive by demagogues carnival barkers.

    2. bees_knees_6 says:

      I would agree, rowdy, that it can get worse. I think morally (which perhaps I should have stressed) the fact that we have an individual that the Arizona Republic said shows “a stunning lack of human decency,” that may well walk into the presidency is about as low as this country has ever gone…. to date.

      “We’ll throw away any progress we’ve made against those dark demons that are kept alive by demagogues carnival barkers.” I’m afraid that ship has left the dock and may well leave the harbor.

    3. The Owl says:

      Preys on fear?

      Preys on little people for their own family’s benefit no matter what cost to the nation?

      Which is worse, Bees, and why? Please be specific.

    4. The Owl says:

      Frank Bruni’s article was interesting, Bees…

      But you forgot to factor in that Hillary’s “go-to” answer for her trials is always “a vast, right-wing conspiracy”.

      It gets tiresome hearing it from both sides, wouldn’t you agree?

      1. bees_knees_6 says:

        Maybe you need to be specific since I have no idea what your question is.

        And, Owl, I regularly say it gets tiresome from both sides…Nice that you finally caught on. However, tiresome is the lesser of two evils and IMHO Trump is an evil this country cannot afford.

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