Comparing Presidents, A New Meme Emerges

Regular readers are aware I’ve been taking various series and breaking them out by Presidential administration, thus comparing how the various Presidents did according to measures like real growth rates, abortions, national debt, etc. So far, almost the series show Democrats doing better than Republicans. (A not complete list can be found here.)

Which has led to some commentary from our friends on the right. At first, the idea was that it was one series or two, so no big deal. Sure, Dems did better on those few series I had looked at, but if only I looked at series X or series Y, things would average out. But now the number of series has grown, and includes series X and series Y and more, and the expected convergence has not arrived.

Which led to a new argument. It could all be explained by lags. Republicans suffered from following Democrats and their lousy policies, Democrats benefited by from following Republicans and their brilliant policies. But that was dispensed with here.

And now, in the comments section, I’m seeing a new meme emerge. Its the business cycle. If only we measured things from the same point in the business cycle, the performance of Republican Presidents would look much better (or the Democrats would look worse).

Regular readers also know what that means. It means I’m going to look at that question next. With data. I’ll try to get to it Sunday or Monday, and have a post up next week some time.

So here’s my prediction. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the business cycle explains the difference. I think taking into account the business cycle makes things better for Republicans because their policies have consequences, namely recessions and slower growth. But even so, I suspect that taking recessions into account is just not going to erase the difference. I expect on average higher growth rates under Democrats. I expect Reagan will probably fall in among the Democrats once his worse years are taken into account. I expect all the bottom performers to be Republicans. All of them.

Who knows, I could be wrong. Perhaps it is the business cycle. I’ll know in a few days. Maybe I have to rethink everything I know. It won’t be the first time, if I’m wrong.

But maybe I’m right. And if I am, my guess is the reaction from our friends on the right, and least some of them, will not be acceptance. Instead, they will find a new reason why the difference between the performance of Democratic Presidents and Republican Presidents is spurious. It may take a while for that reason to emerge, though.


I forgot one of the previous memes… Congress. That one went the by the wayside here.