Bush vs. Gasoline vs. American Deaths

I just read a post about President Bush’s approval rating vs. the number of American deaths in Iraq vs. the price of gasoline. The blogger mentioned that most people would like to say that President Bush’s approval rating is inversely related to American deaths in Iraq, but the data show that is not true. Mr. President’s approval rating is more affected by the price of gasoline than by the number of American deaths in Iraq.

Should that concern us? It seems pretty intuitive to me. I think that people respond more to what is affecting their lives on a daily basis than on something that they read in the paper, but never really encounter. The average American does not know anyone who has died serving our country in Iraq. The average American does, however, feel very strongly that gasoline prices are too high. When we are managers in the future, we should be sensitive to this phenomenon. We need to understand that people respond more emotionally to the things that affect their day-to-day lives. If we are going to make changes to compensation, structure, vendors, or benefits, we can expect the people at the office to FLIP OUT. Very few people will immediately and quietly accept changes to their daily routines.


rico said...

We all need to realize that change is going to happen no matter what. United States citizens haven't had to suffer for this war, and gas prices probably would have risen anyway. Most foreign countries have been paying $3-$4 per liter! Hopefully gas guzzling Americans will be more cautious with gasoline consumption and then maybe we will see a decrease.

noah said...

I thought this was an interesting post and I agree with the first comment. We don't like change, especially change in our daily routine. I wouldn't have guessed that the president's approval rating would be affected more by the price of gas than by the loss of U.S. troupes, but it isn't too surprising. The price of gas somehow affects almost all of us even if it is in a relatively small way.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Noah's comment for a spelling error.

I think Billy's post is essentially correct - although disturbing.

The same thing happened with the first President Bush. He had the highest approval ratings of any President, and yet most people attribute the turning point for him to being perceived as ineffectual in the wake of the Rodney King riots. That may be true, but I don't know of anyone who has given a good explanation of what he should have done.

I think that we probably need to give this Bush more credit. There's a simple formula to be popular, and he's not taking that road.

Matthew said...

Dr. Tufte said, “I think Billy's post is essentially correct - although disturbing.” Billy said that Bush's approval rating is correlated with Americans' approval of gasoline prices. I agree with his point that people are more affected by smaller day to day events, rather than the war, or something like that. However, is Bush really responsible for the price of gasoline? Isn't the price of gasoline left up to the market? Don't we want government to stay out of fixing prices with ceilings and floors? I think saying that there is a correlation between gas prices and presidential approval ratings is like saying there's a correlation between ice cream sales and getting the flu. Ice cream sales go up in the summer and less people get sick. That correlation has more to do with the weather, I think. Is there a key element missing in the Bush/gasoline correlation?

Dr. Tufte said...

Matthew: you have a point. But, think about this: gas prices went up under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush I and II, and down under Reagan and Clinton. Is there a pattern there?