In his column in the Elmira Star-Gazette on January 28, Dana Millbank suggests a rule for predicting the results of presidential elections. He writes: “The party of the incumbent president will win an election if the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index is above 100.” Let’s see if this is right.
|President||Date||Consumer Confidence||Milbank rule valid|
|G.H.W. Bush||November 1988||112||yes|
|Bill Clinton||November 1992||65||yes|
|Bill Clinton||November 1996||109||yes|
|George W. Bush||November 2000||132||no|
|George W. Bush||November 2004||92||no|
|Barack Obama||November 2008||44||yes|
|Barack Obama||November 2012||71||no|
Milbank’s rule held for George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama’s first term, but not for George W. Bush or Obama’s second term. Four times right in seven isn’t convincing–far from a sure thing. If consumer confidence is above 100 in 2016 as Milbank predicts it will be, President Obama should be succeeded by a Democrat. We’ll see.
© William Hungerford – January 2015