The state of the national economy is pretty bad, which means that on average the state of local economies in the United States is also pretty bad. But as Andrew Gelman illustrates, citing Gallup data, most Americans are pretty sanguine about local conditions.
The partisan split on this should reenforce the conclusion that the economic conditions that matter politically are national ones since that's where you see the motivated reasoning start to take hold as Republicans suddenly develp a wildly bleaker view than independents. When it comes to local affairs the assessment is upbeat and most people don't seem to be thinking with their partisan political brains turned on.
Local positivity bias is a fairly common public opinion result. Most people, for example, think that the schools in their neighborhood are fine but that the national picture is very troubled. I tend to think this drives erratic politics, as voters are nominally committed to sweeping changes to alter big national problems but actually extremely averse to concrete changes in their lives since they're pretty upbeat about the local situation.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War
Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough
So they added a little self-immolation.