Finally, as economist Greg Mankiw points out in his blog, reacting to a similar calculation by Alan Blinder (both of them former chairs of the president's Council of Economic Advisers), correlation is not causation. Maybe economic statistics are better when the president is a Democrat for reasons having nothing to do with the president's skill in handling the economy. My own feeling about that is that as long as the pattern continues, who cares why? Correlation will do just fine.
Apparently, Michael Kinsley does not know what Correlation is. Just because something was correlated in the past does not mean that the relationship will hold in the future. The reason you care is because unless you know what the cause of the correlation is, you can not predict if the pattern will continue.
Furthermore, Michael Kinsley ignores:
- Foreign Policy (the main area that the President has control over)
- Congress has a much greater control over spending, taxes and the size of the federal deficit/surplus than the President does (the Democratic Party was in control of the House of Representatives for all but 12 years that he looked at).
- Inflation, Unemployment and Economic growth are largely the product of monetary policy. Both parties have largely adopted the same views on monetary policy, but much of the economic problems that are seen in Kinsley's numbers were the result of Democratic Keynesian monetary policy that were not abandoned until Reagan returned America to a more Classical Monetarist monetary policy. The Democratic party has now adopted those policies. So what does that say about which party has a better understanding of Economic principles?