06 November 2008

In Which I am Asked to Back up my Assertions

GruntDoc takes me to task for a couple of statements I made in this previous post. Fair enough, I am happy to provide some supporting data. First, I wrote that "over the last century, economic prosperity has been the hallmark of Democratic administrations," which Allen described as "failing any reasonableness test." I think that GDP growth and Job Growth are generally accepted as indices of prosperity; here are the average, annual numbers for GDP Growth and Employment Growth, respectively, broken down by President, from the Eisenhower administration on:

Note that the Carter administration was not as bad as generally remembered. It started out very well, and ended very badly. However, note that there is fairly strict segregation between high and low growth periods by party in control of the White House. Now, if you want to make an argument that these are accidents of happenstance and bear as much relation to reality as the winner of the Redskins game before the election, that's a fair point to make, and an argument I'm not smart enough to engage in. But I stand by the general statement that Democrats have generally been better for the economy than republicans. But we all know that past performance is no guarantee of future results...

The other statement, which is, I admit, more arguable, was that the republican party is "reduced to a regional party based in the south." Allen refered me to this map which shows a Red America with small islands of blue. I actually think this supports my point quite nicely, as it reflects the southern boundaries of the GOP quite clearly (extending up through Appalachia).I offer, as supplemental evidence, this cartograph of the recent election, broken down by state and weighted by the population of that state:
Or, if you prefer a more granular level of detail, here's the same graph, broken down by county.
Mostly I just wanted an excuse to post these cool pictures. I love these graphical displays. While it is true that the republicans retain some strength in the Mountain West in addition to the Old Confederacy, the Democrats own the entire Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Pacific Coasts.

I admit that the whole thing is oversimplified, and that there's truly a lot of purple areas out there. Fair enough. But the original point is valid: unless the republicans can learn to compete in the large metropolitan areas of the country, they are at risk of becoming progressively more marginalized as a rural/regional party.


  1. What? Surely, you don't mean to suggest there's been less economic growth under Republican administrations than Democratic administrations, do you?

    Why, that can't possibly be! Everyone knows "trickle down" economics is the only way the country can prosper. Just ask any Republican.

    I think we ought to join the movement to Impeach Obama right away, before his administration gets completely out of hand. No need to wait until he's actually inaugurated; let's get rid of him now!

    You know Obama's going to kill Bush's track record of creating 5+ million new jobs in eight years. He might even go as far as Clinton did, by creating 22+ million new jobs... and you know what that means. That's right, even more people getting a better tax break than Catron.

    You are such a socialist Marxist fascist left-wing Nazi Second-Amendment-killing, dumb as a box of hammers Dem to even post such garbage.


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  3. Some more cool graphs to support your point: The
    New York Times did an experiment: $10,000 invested in 1900 and only kept in he S&P 500 for each parties' administrations. Republican: You'd have $11,733. Democrat: $300,671!

  4. You might like this.

    The unemployment rate during Carter, for instance, was 8.2% or thereabouts for the whole term. After Carter was Reagan and the unemployment rate was 6% by the end of his 8 years...

    There are tons of forces at play here though. Like GWB got to preside over the dotcom failures and stuff like that. Not REALLY his fault obviously.

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  6. Well, thanks for playing!

    But, let's look at the misery index before we give Carter a big thanks for 13% inflation (and, look at the graphs to see that the Reagan high was what he got from Carter).

    I like the pretty 'population weighted' pictures, but you didn't post the ones from 2004 that don't support your conclusion:
    the nonweighted one, and then the weighted one. So, it's not a blue country at all. It's a country that changes its mind, but with solid little blue islands and a body of red.

    I'm okay with that.

    Neither of us will change the others' mind on this, but it's interesting.

    I would ask that you not lump all southerners as racists any more than you'd like all blue states to be lumped in as socialists or worse. Pejorative labels demean and dehumanize groups, and are a useful first step to stop seeing people as people but as inhuman, and thus unworthy of respect or humanity. It's unhealthy, lazy, and intellectually dishonest (neither party has a corner on virtue).

  7. "Prefer a broader historical comparison? In the past three decades, since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries oil price shocks of the mid-1970s and the Republican turn toward "supply side" economics, the average unemployment rate under Republican presidents has been 6.7 percent – substantially higher than the 5.5 percent average under Democratic presidents. (The official unemployment rate takes no account of people who have given up looking for work or taken substantial pay cuts to stay in the labor force.) Over an even broader time period, since the late 1940s, unemployment has averaged 4.8 percent under Democratic presidents but 6.3 percent – almost one-third higher – under Republican presidents."

    Take a gander:http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1021/p09s01-coop.html

    And more....
    "With twenty years on each side and since some of the ups and downs of the U.S. business cycle lie beyond the direct control of policymakers, one would expect similar results in the two groups. Not so. Instead, one discovers below a significant advantage when a Democrat occupied the White House in each of the five categories."


    And more...
    "These and other policies have produced not only lower unemployment under Democratic presidents but also more economic output and income growth. In fact, over the past 60 years, the real incomes of middle-income families have grown about twice as fast under Democratic presidents as they have under Republican presidents. The partisan difference is even greater for working poor families, whose real incomes have grown six times as fast under Democratic presidents as they have under Republican presidents."


    And these are just a very small selection.

  8. I think that GDP growth and Job Growth are generally accepted as indices of prosperity.

    Actually, you're several decades behind the curve. Economists have long known that GDP is useless for telling us what's going on in people's lives.

    Exhibit A: That uptick in GDP during the Carter years was accompanied by huge increases in unemployment, interest rates, inflation, and the poverty rate.

  9. Why are Scalpel and others so obsessed with Carter as an example of this country under a Democratic president (although I enjoyed reading their opinions)? I don't have very clear memories of Carter, but I sure as hell remember the Reagen years, the Bush 1 years, the Clinton years, and our current president. By far, my extended family's economic prosperity was greatest during the Clinton years.

    BTW, have you read this Slate article showing a postive correlation between democratic administrations the economy - http://www.slate.com/id/2199810/

  10. I'm trained as an academic social scientist with emphasis on political science*, which is a fancy way of saying I have been staring at those cartographs and the raw statistical data since Wednesday morning and going, "Oooooh, pretty!"

    The interesting thing about those cartographs is watching the pendulum start to swing again. In the 1940s, the Democrats and Republicans effectively swapped platforms and support bases. I believe this election cycle is the height of that pendulum swing, and in the next 50 years either the two parties will once again flip-flop or the Republicans will die out completely, the Dems will hold down the small government fort, and a third party will rise up to become the second pary in our two-party system (everyone remembers the Whigs, right?).

    Or we could use the Internet and the exponential shrinking of computer processors and expanding global communication network to fracture into a million factions, and become more coalition based such as the EU. I'm giving that about a 25% chance over 100 years.

    *which is of course why I'm working in Healthcare Logistics.

  11. An interesting question about the future of the Rep party. Without purposely using emotionally charged words, the Repubs are the party of self-reliance, rather do it myself, if I needed that service I'd pay for it. The Dems seem to be the party of all getting together and doing things as a team and everybody kicks in.

    But as more and more people move into the cities, where does that leave the Repubs?

    It's the same argument as the American Revolution--the states didn't want to send tax money to England for use in other places in the Empire. Repubs don't want their tax money used to fund services in the cities that they'll never use.


  12. Interesting graphs about GDP growth rates and the party of the president. What happens when you factor in the growth rate of the national debt as a percent? How about the growth of the national debt in billions per administration?

  13. Grunt Doc:
    In case you haven't noticed, empty acres of land don't vote. PEOPLE vote. I agree that there is a relative Dem-Rep current based on the election year but to show "non weighted" map as a sea of red and therefore an OBVIOUS GOP majority country shows a complete lack of understanding as to how we elect people. That is unless you know some texas or dakota prairie dog voter registration fraud :)

    PS: That misery index ends for W in 2007. Let's see what it is after he leaves office and counts his entire term. I bet he will jump 2-4 places.


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