April 14, 2004

Stupid Kerry Statistics

In 1976, Jimmy Carter ran using something called the Misery Index. This was unemployment added to inflation and tracking that number didn't look too good for President Ford. Carter won, in part on the back of the Misery Index. Four years later it came back to haunt him because the Misery Index numbers looked even worse under Carter. Ronald Reagan won office by asking, twice, "are you better off now than you were four years ago?" The response in 1980 was no, we weren't, and in 1984 yes we were.

The Misery Index worked because it was simple and spoke to a real sense of how we were doing in a way that just about anybody could understand. Now John Kerry wants to make a new statistic part of the US political conversation, the Middle Class Misery Index. The first clue that this is a bogus statistic is that Carter gets a better economic rating in his four years than Reagan does. That doesn't pass the laugh test.

Kerry's political misery index is also confusing. The higher the index is, the better according to Kerry but the index includes numbers that are both good when they get higher (median family income, homeownership rate, and private sector job growth) and bad when they get higher (college tuition, health costs, gasoline cost, and bankruptcies). This means you have to invert the values for four of the seven components, something a bit more challenging than adding up two numbers.

I predict that this is going to sink like a stone.

HT: Iraq Now

Posted by TMLutas at April 14, 2004 09:28 AM