The overall sample of The Economist’s poll of economists turns up plenty of Democrats and lots of independents but few self-identifying Republicans, so it’s not clear what the overall results really tell you. But the internals are interesting:
The detailed responses are bad news for Mr McCain (the full data are available here). Eighty per cent of respondents and no fewer than 71% of those who do not cleave to either main party say Mr Obama has a better grasp of economics. Even among Republicans Mr Obama has the edge: 46% versus 23% say Mr Obama has the better grasp of the subject. “I take McCain’s word on this one,” comments James Harrigan at the University of Virginia, a reference to Mr McCain’s infamous confession that he does not know as much about economics as he should. In fairness, Mr McCain’s lower grade may in part reflect greater candour about his weaknesses. Mr Obama’s more tightly managed image leaves fewer opportunities for such unvarnished introspection. […]
The economists also prefer Mr Obama’s tax plans. Republicans and respondents who do not identify with either political party see Mr McCain’s tax policies as more efficient but less equitable. But the former prefer Mr McCain’s plans — 43% of Republicans say they are good or very good — and the latter Mr Obama’s. Of non-affiliated respondents, 31% say Mr Obama’s are good or very good.
The overall leftward tilt of the profession goes somewhat against the image of economics as dominated by free marketers and, I suppose, in part reflects the conservative coalition’s steady alienation of educated professionals everywhere.