Last week, we looked at the relationship between Presidential Approval rating and the Dow — and found it to be wanting.

The now retired Prof Pollkatz suggested gas prices as a better metric, and for much fo the Bush Presidency, the correlation was pretty tight.

However, prices seem to be more volatile than approval ratings. Note what happened in 2008, as the recession crashed prices (aka deflation):

click for bigger chart


Here is a question for the assembled multitudes: What are the highest correlated items in terms of price — either directly or inversely — versus Presidential approval rations?

Category: Commodities, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

32 Responses to “Presidential Polling vs. Gasoline (part 2)”

  1. I have never measured it but I have noticed approval ratings and consumer confidence have some positive correlation.

  2. Pool Shark says:

    Bread and circuses?

  3. Pat G. says:

    The correlation between the Presidential approval rating and the Dow is not “wanting”. Look at my comment from last week. I see no correlation between it and gas. It’s not about prices, it’s about psychology.

  4. Wes Schott says:

    @Pat G –

    as you pointed out correctly using “fundamental analysis” correlation can be a function of time….

    and can change from negative to positive correlation

    in a classical statistical analysis of time series the whole time series is considered and when negative phases are countered by positive phases the net effect tends toward zero (i.e. no) correlation

  5. Dogfish says:

    Campaign Contributions, Lobbying Costs, and maybe Terror Alert Level.

  6. cvienne says:


    Clearly Dogfish has a thing for Rachel Maddow…

  7. call me ahab says:

    well- i am going to go out on a limb- and say that sometimes a negative approval rating doesn’t equate to being a bad president-

    if Obama had guts he would promote the increase of the gas tax- substantially- to decrease demand for oil- and use that money to invest in mass transit in high density regions-

    killer proposal though- killer in that i like it a lot- but in the other sense- a killer to a responsible person who proposes it-

    because the folk out in the hinterlands hate it- and the suburbanites hate it-

    but i understand the folk in the hinterlands being opposed- they don’t need mass transit- won’t get mass transit- and yet they are paying for it by higher taxes-

    but the surburbanites in metro areas- if they had any sense- would be for it- because in the end it will only decrease their dependence on a car and make their life easier in the long run- but they won’t be for it- because it is always about the NOW- and the now is- with the increased tax- it will only cost them money-

    short sighted- because in the end- our very survival depends on this country to develop the technology to be energy independent- the collective hardship will pay dividends for many years beyond the amount of time the hardship was endured

  8. Andy T says:

    I’m guessing the direction of the real unemployment rate?

  9. Onlooker from Troy says:


    I’d also say that a positive approval rating is much overrated (pardon the pun). The public at large has led us to the place we are right now through their election of the folks who would tell them what they wanted to hear and hand out the goodies with rare exceptions. Telling the hard truth and trying to fix our huge underlying problems will get you thrown out of office (or kept out) faster than anything. “Don’t touch the goodies, and keep ‘em coming.”

    So all too often the guy with the positive approval level is the one who’s taken the easy way and given the people what they wanted, even if it was detrimental to our fundamental well being.

    That is of course a broad generalization, but true in the big picture of things.

  10. call me ahab says:

    onlooker says-

    “a positive approval rating is much overrated’

    i agree- sometimes bold action needs to be taken- and brought to the American people and sold as vital to the perserverence of the country-

    but unfortunately it is never done that way- i honestly believe that if something is presented to the American people as vital- and it is truly vital- they can be swayed-

    but- keep them confused- misinformation coming from all sides- the decision of the American people will always be no thanks

  11. Thor says:

    speaking of energy independence – has anyone read about the giant new oil find in the gulf of Mexico? 250 miles out from Houston. So much for Peak Oil. Question though, does anyone know who that oil belongs to? BP found it, but does that count as our oil?

  12. Doc at the Radar Station says:

    “Note what happened in 2008, as the recession crashed prices (aka deflation):”

    Nope. The correlation changed because of the bank panic. Banks being in bad shape had a stronger psychological effect than the otherwise usual gas price effect on presidential approval.

  13. call me ahab says:

    thor- from USA today-

    BP hasn’t released specifics on the size of the field. But if it turns out to be truly “giant,” it’ll contain more than 500 million barrels of recoverable oil, according to definitions by the U.S. Energy Information Administration . . . While a big find, the field’s potential production won’t constitute more than a “drop in the bucket” when it comes to U.S. oil consumption, says Perry Fischer, editor of trade journal World Oil in Houston. The U.S. consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day.

    500/20 = 25 days

    now i know it is pitching in to all world wide production- but if the USA had to rely on that HUGE find alone- how huge is it really?

  14. Wes Schott says:


    the “giant” finds in the deepwater GOM

    are in a play that has a low recovery factor

    the numbers that are being “reported” are STOIP

  15. Thor says:

    Ahab – interesting, Other sources put find at closer to 3 billion barrels. How much they’ll end up recovering is another story. You also cannot use the 20 million barrels a day number without putting it into context. We do actually still produce a good deal of oil in this country. Latest records I can find put us in third place, producing 9 million barrels of oil a day. If we take a middle of the road number – say 1 billion barrels and then do the math we have 1000/9 we have 111 days worth of oil imports. . . . . OK, well maybe that’s not much better :-)

    To expand upon my “peak oil” statement. I think it’s pretty much a joke. 75% of this planet is ocean – how much of that have we explored for oil so far and how much more are we technologically able to explore and extract every year?

  16. Thor says:

    WES – could you translate that into non-oil speak for me? :-)

  17. Thor says:

    AND I screwed my math up – we import 11 million barrels of oil a day so that would be 1000/11 = 90 days :-(

  18. Bruce in Tn says:

    Got a new computer at the salt mine today, couldn’t get TBP on channel 8 like usual (!),even with rabbit ears, so may be spotty with my fiscally conservative posts for awhile. Damn thing is fast though….as soon as my fingers head for the keys….poof, it is over.

    Now if I could just work like that…

  19. call me ahab says:


    what wes is saying is the oil may be there as reported- but it does not mean that it is recoverable

  20. Transor Z says:

    W had an approval rating of 90% after 9/11, Bush Sr. 89% after the first Iraq War.

    Harry Truman’s had a high of 87 and a low of 22 — lower than Nixon’s worst of 24.

    Remember, Barry, there’s also a Disapproval Rating, which you probably want to factor into the mix here to play with this thought.

    One of the better Wikipedia entries I’ve seen on this:

    I agree with Ahab that approval rating is pretty ephemeral and not a good indicator of presidential quality. Reagan’s approval numbers were never great and Truman’s were pretty volatile.

  21. cvienne says:


    Going back to your (8:34) post…

    You’re actually ONTO something there…

    I’d be all for a 100% tax on gasoline (proceeds going towards mass transit)…

    Fuck the hinterlands! Why? Because I LIVE IN THE HINTERLANDS (or, at least commute in that space)… So why do I want to, suggestive in nature, fuck myself?


    Because it is easy to convert trucks & vehicles to run on nat gas (mine already is – and nat gas prices are going down by the day – boy AM I A FUCKING GENIUS)… Everyone living in the hinterlands would automatically, AND SHOULD AUTOMATICALLY DO THIS…

    But because our “Change” President is too stupid to see beyond his own dick, he hasn’t proposed it yet…

    Somebody will… eventually… the only reason it hasn’t been proposed yet is because it is too SIMPLE for all these MEGATRON INTELLECTUALS to understand!

  22. cvienne says:

    @Transor Z

    Truman never cared about his approval rating… God love him for it… He retired into being a simple citizen and didn’t even require the taxpayer expense of Secret Service…

    All Obama cares about are what “book deals”, and “appearance fees” he’ll get when he retires (so I suppose his “choices” are more about maintaining his popularity than anything else)…

    Hell – He didn’t even wait… He is the only one I can ever remember in all my life that published a book about his grand life story BEFORE HE EVEN FUCKING DID ANYTHING!

  23. Transor Z says:

    Truman is one of my heroes. Seriously. David McCulloch’s bio of him is awesome, if you haven’t read it.

  24. JoWriter says:

    The more time that passes, the better Truman looks. My mother and her twin sister were furious at him for firing MacArthur, but his other foreign policy and defense actions have turned out to have been very good for our country.

    When we lived in Switzerland in the early sixties, my husband ran into a guy on a tram who sussed out that my husband was an American. Turns out the guy was a Greek. He grabbed my husband’s hand and pumped it, thanking him in broken English and German, for “your president Truman! He saved us from Communism!” That was the first we’d heard that.

    Re: gas taxes and approval ratings. The devoutly to be accomplished ideal that some of the posters are promoting – i.e. high gas taxes and tons of mass transit – the mass transit is happening already! Haven’t you noticed? Every city in the country is forcing it down the throats of their resisting residents and voters. It’s not just rural and suburban people who don’t want mass transit. The city folks don’t want it either, as they consistently show whenever they have the opportunity to vote on it.

    Mass transit is great in Europe, where the population density makes it more feasible, though I did notice the last time I was there that there are more freeways and cars than there used to be. Having your own transportation give you more flexibility than the wonderful 19th century model of transportation for the masses – the collective, if you will.

    Having one’s own automobile gives one an economic leg up, since more job opportunities are available to somebody WHO CAN GET THERE. Check this out:

    BTW – How do you convert vehicles to being able to use nat gas, and where do you find a supply?

  25. alfred e says:

    One of the past presidents, was it Reagan, said for the U. S. To get back on track would take a series of one term presidents.

    Doing the right thing would be more important than re-election.

    Except Carter tried that and got the sh*t kicked of him coming and going. Remember zero-based budgeting. And he was one term.

    Clinton was the best Republican president money could buy – quote.

    It’s about the money stupid. And our for-sale congress.

    Remember the stupid notion of term limits? Once Gingrich quit that died too.

    Presidential rating correlation?

    What’s the right economic metric for trust? Delivering on campaign rhetoric. Change you can believe in. Eugene is having its music festival this weekend. The theme? “Strange we can believe in”. Perfect. There will be lots of strange in DeFazio land. Who is, by the way, all about how it should work.

    Maybe it should be tax revenue. People willingly paying for the right thing. Either through tax hikes or increased revenue. Does it matter?

  26. CTB says:

    We should have push for very strict lobby laws. To enforce it, we need a CSPAN Reality Television network with open access to follow around senators, justices, and members of the executive branch.

  27. robcyran says:

    The hourly rate for lobbyists for the incumbent party? (I suspect the correlation is pretty damn good, although this is kind of like arguing that Christmas trees cause Christmas)

  28. torrie-amos says:

    guess, approval rating correlates too home prices

  29. Greg0658 says:

    lol “Strange we can believe in” .. good one

    gotta agree with the thread that the WH and our system needs re-approval and throwing money out helps in that regard

    saw the hype on the new deep well for gasoline drill drill drill too .. cvienne how many miles do you get on a gallon size tank of natgas with that farm running truck of yours?

    and doc in the salt mine .. please – pretty please with sugar on top .. what specific type of surgeon are you .. ER or scheduled?

  30. Greg0658 says:

    and doc if I could be so bold – % of education & financing from: own work & savings .. relatives .. GIbill .. banks
    (initially only .. paybacks excluded please)

  31. call me ahab says:

    i will 2nd greg’s nod to alfred’s “strange we can believe in”-

    I will vote for any candidate who has that as their slogan


    you make my point for me- of course people don’t want it- track or tunnels and disruptions in their neighborhoods- higher taxes-

    but it does not mean it is not necessary- to change the commuting habits of people- so we can become in charge of our own destiny re energy-

    let’s call it tough love

  32. Cuke says:

    Sorry I missed this one earlier Barry – I’d expect the USD is very nicely correlated to Pres ratings over the longer term.