Journal: Who’s Better for the U.S. Economy? Democrats or Republicans? A Second Look

03 Economy
Chuck Spinney Recommends...

Last November, I distributed a blaster that compared changes in the debt burdens to Presidential administrations from Harry Truman to George W. Bush.  For readers who missed it, James Fallows of the Atlantic Magazine picked it up and published it here.  At the time, its stark pattern generated considerable interest and criticism, but I suggested that assigning responsibility for was a complex issue and that this chart was only a “first cut.”  Attached herewith is an analysis that could be considered a “second cut” into the general question of whether Democrats or Republicans are better for the economy.  Like my table on changing debt burdens, this “2nd cut” is by no means a definitive answer to the general question of what politics are more responsible for our current economic mess, but it is also interesting in its starkness of patterns.

The author must remain anonymous, because he is an apolitical career civil servant in the Senior Executive Service (SES) of the US government.  I can say that he was hired during a Republican Administration.  He is  relatively conservative (probably center right and certainly not a partisan member of the so-called left). He is not an economist, but has a PhD in a hard science; he is extremely well read; and I have long had enormous respect for his wide-ranging curiosity.

The attached analysis has three tables which may not convey in some email systems; therefore, for those readers having I am attaching this report in pdf format and MS Word format for those of you who have trouble reading this.

Chuck Spinney

The US Economy: Are Republicans or Democrats Better?

by SES X

PDF Report


The Democrats easily win the comparison, as shown in the tables in the report.

In all three tables, the “top two” administrations (out of ten) had more than 80% Democratic control and the “worst three” administrations had 50% to 84% Republican control.

The only Republican administration in the top five was Reagan. Reagan rates third, fourth, and tied for fourth in the three tables.

Clinton always rates either third or fourth.

Obama always rates either fifth (twice) or seventh (once), but his period of performance is too short to be very meaningful.

Carter rates anywhere from fourth (tie) to seventh. Given the negative press that he has received, this may be slightly better than expected.

The biggest surprise may be that Eisenhower finishes in the bottom three every time, including a tie for last in one case.

It should be noted, however, that the nominal number one administration of the last 41 years featured greater than 50% Republican control (Reagan), but also that performance under Reagan and Clinton was effectively identical.

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