Monday, October 8, 2007

It's the war, stupid!

A lot of virtual ink is being wasted interpreting this image from Professor Pollkatz's site, purporting to show a correlation between the price of gasoline and President Bush's poll numbers. This despite the best efforts of others to debunk the claim.

At first glance it looks pretty impressive with both time series showing a sharp jump after 9/11 followed by a fairly long decline. Chris Bowers goes so far as to conclude that rising gas prices helped helped Democrats win power in 2006 and warns that the longterm trend spells doom for future presidents.
Ending the war will help, and providing millions of people with health care will help, too. However, gas prices will still remain high, making approval ratings in the 40s and 50s about the best anyone can do even under the most favorable conditions until at least 2020.

In two words this is complete nonsense.

If you look at the Bush's popularity figures it's dominated by 3 events - 9/11, the invasion of Iraq and the capture of Saddam. After each event he saw an immediate jump in approval followed by a nearly linear drop back to the norm. I don't think anyone can seriously argue the price of gas dominated his poll ratings during that time.

The fact that neither the sharpest drop in gas prices (in the weeks after 9/11), nor the sharpest increase a few months later had any obvious impact on George Bush's poll numbers is a pretty good clue that the gas theory is full of hot air.

That brings us to about January of 2004. So cover up the left half of pollkatz's chart. Still see a trend?

Want to know what has an even better correlation with George Bush's approval ratings than the price of gas? It's exactly what people keep telling you it is:

Pollkatz's Bush approval index in red. Polling Report's "Do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting?" in blue.

No comments: