Audacious' post on immigration and unemployment got me thinking about the connection between the president and the condition of the economy. I've put a graph up of the trend in unemployment since 1948. Maybe my approach is too simple, but I looked to see if unemployment fell or was flat during each president's tenure, paying less attention to their first year or two because conditions don't change overnight. (I also paid attention to the year following their exit). I rated each president as good, mixed or bad:
Rating on the economy
Bush II mixed
Bush I mixed
Like any good conservative, I would assume that the economy would perform better under a Republican administration. But it doesn't seem clear to me at all. Three out of the five good presidents were Democrats (and I'm tempted to throw out Ford since his tenure was so short). In fact, it's not clear that Reagan was better than Clinton. Four out of five of the so-so presidents have been Republicans. Carter is the only Democrat stinker.
To be honest, economics and foreign policy are not my top priorities. Centrist elites control foreign policy, and to be honest I don't see black and white differences in results on economic issues. I get worked up most about other issues like immigration. Am I wrong?