PERCEPTIONS VS REALITY ON STIMULUS…. Congressional Republicans have invested considerable energy over the last year in trying to convince the country that economic recovery efforts were a mistake. The stimulus, the GOP insists, didn’t work.

The repetition, coupled with a still-struggling economy, has proven persuasive to much of the public — a new CNN poll finds that a majority of Americans believes the investments were wasted or spent for political reasons, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Among economists, however, we seem awfully close to complete unanimity that the Democrats’ recovery effort rescued the economy from collapse, created jobs, and generated economic growth that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. Among the experts, this isn’t even worth debating anymore — it’s simply an obvious truth that the stimulus was effective.

USA Today published an item today after surveying a panel of economists.

President Obama’s stimulus package saved jobs — but the government still needs to do more to breathe life into the economy, according to USA TODAY’s quarterly survey of 50 economists.

Unemployment would have hit 10.8% — higher than December’s 10% rate — without Obama’s $787 billion stimulus program, according to the economists’ median estimate. The difference would translate into another 1.2 million lost jobs.

Not surprisingly, the economists believe there should be more stimulus, not less, including increased spending on infrastructure.

But that’s almost certainly impossible, because of public opinion as reflected in the CNN poll.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.