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The Thin Red Line
August 6, 2004 2:49 AM   Subscribe

The guys who brought you the timeline of terror alerts have been at it again. This time they made a chart comparing Bush's approval rating and the terror alerts. It's getting harder to believe this isn't s big slight of hand going on. Follow the ! icons and the thin red line.
posted by Dome-O-Rama (16 comments total)

 
> There are few things that are quite evident from the chart:
>
> - Whenever his ratings dip, there's a new terror alert.

I don't see that in the chart. I see a steady decline since 9/11, punctuated by terror alerts at random.


> - Every terror alert is followed by a slight uptick of Bush approval ratings.

Don't see this either; the ratings chart is much too noisy. If this were my PhD project I'd be going "Damn, no effect. Have to find another project."


> - As we approach the 2004 elections, the number and frequency of terror
> alerts keeps growing, to the point that they collapse in the graphic. At
> the same time, Bush ratings are lower than ever.

The increased frequency of recent alerts does stand out pretty clearly, but I see no effect on approval ratings. If it is a conscious election strategy by the B-person or his advisors, it isn't working.
posted by jfuller at 3:36 AM on August 6, 2004


It would really be helpful if they had a version of that chart big enough to see what it said. The only noticeable uptick amidst all the condensed dots is the Iraq war one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:37 AM on August 6, 2004


Don't see this either; the ratings chart is much too noisy. If this were my PhD project I'd be going "Damn, no effect. Have to find another project."

If I were your advisor I would say "Surely you mean to say "Damn! No relationship" since you are looking at correlational data

It would be nice to see some actual numbers, preferably statistical breakdowns, rather than a pretty picture. Also, why is the graph so small? It is impossible to see if the upticks actually occur after terror alerts.

I would also say that the data should have a lot of noise. One should reasonably expect it with 9/11, two wars and a mission accomplished carrier landing all occuring the interval examined.

I imagine the data is all out there so it will be interesting someone with a statistical bent break it down.
posted by srboisvert at 4:37 AM on August 6, 2004


> If I were your advisor I would say "Surely you mean to say "Damn! No relationship"
> since you are looking at correlational data

fuller is leaping from data to inference here. Didn't know my advisor was watching. That's not fair, our next appointment isn't until Tuesday.
posted by jfuller at 4:55 AM on August 6, 2004


The only correlation that you can spot on this graph is that, perhaps, as Bush's popularity drops, the number of terror alerts rises - inferring that Bush is issuing alerts as his ship goes down.

OR...

As the number of terror alerts increases, Bush's popularity drops as, possibly, the increase in terror alerts causes fear in the populace that Bush can't do the job of protecting them well enough (ie: why are there still so many terrorists after two wars?).

OR...

Seeing the affects of Scenarios 1 and 2, the terrorists are faking events that trigger terror alerts in hopes of affecting the election and bringing John Kerry, the first French President, to power in America. Thus forcing American capitulation in the war on terror in 2006, shortly before the infamous Cyberdine Systems Project.
posted by crazy finger at 5:04 AM on August 6, 2004


I don't see that in the chart. I see a steady decline since 9/11, punctuated by terror alerts at random.

Regardless of the correlation between the terror alerts and his approval rating, isn't that steady decline WONDERFUL?!
posted by crunchland at 5:07 AM on August 6, 2004


indeed crunchland!

though I'm horrified to see that Bush approval ratings were in the high nineties, *ever*, even with the temporary insanity of the post-September-11th hysteria to explain it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2004


As the number of terror alerts increases, Bush's popularity drops as, possibly, the increase in terror alerts causes fear in the populace that Bush can't do the job of protecting them well enough

You'd think...
posted by rushmc at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2004


For those of us that believe that one of the few things Clinton had right was the mantra "It's the Economy, Stupid" (since revised to "It's a Stupid Economy"), the election is probably more likely to be decided by the Dow Index. Anybody who hasn't personally been affected by a bad (or good) economy makes judgments on the oversimplified numbers. My personal prediction: if the Dow is over 10,500 on Election Day, Bush will have it locked up, if it's under 10,000 (like it is now), Kerry will get it relatively easy. Between those numbers, look at the Job Statistics; if they're inconclusive, then you can start factoring in Terrorist Fear.
posted by wendell at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2004


There is no direct causal link, at least according to this data. Any uptick in overall approval ratings my simply be a cause of the terror warnings. It is extremely difficult to say that either is driving the other. Obviously, the approval ratings aren't stimulating terror attacks globally.
posted by npost at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2004


I'll just chime in that the chart is maddeningly small and hard to read, and doesn't seem to merit the veneer of certainty supposedly derived from it. It's almost as if it's small so you can't see that the conclusions are mostly hype.

the election is probably more likely to be decided by the Dow Index.

Well, as of today anyway, it ain't lookin' too good.
posted by soyjoy at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2004


Ooh, now there's an interesting idea. Overlay orange alerts on a Dow chart.

Otherwise, see yesterday's comment in the related thread.
posted by ilsa at 10:17 AM on August 6, 2004


Without some simple charts for visual impact, this data aren't terribly useful to most people. If these can be distilled to some e-mailable GIFs, it'll spread like wildfire.
posted by waldo at 11:51 AM on August 6, 2004


It's not as simple as just approval ratings and terror alerts. You have to look at what was the lead story on the news right beforehand and what was going on in Iraq too, as well as the Plame story, Abu Ghraib, Ken Lay, etc....
posted by amberglow at 12:08 PM on August 6, 2004


A petulant purported potentate of a purled pajama prince, puerile and promiscuously a-propaeduetic, a potentially purulent puppet (or pygmalion?), puissance ptotic, prinks his probity's pulchritude and pines for pridefully protruberant Priapism now prolapsed (prosomic), persuses Psalms.
posted by troutfishing at 2:48 PM on August 6, 2004


Also - I strongly agree with Waldo's comment :

"If these can be distilled to some e-mailable GIFs, it'll spread like wildfire"

I think Metafilter may be their suggestion box. If not, I'll email 'em myself.

ilsa's DOW - terror overlay is a good idea too.


I'm with soyjoy though - I'm inclined to believe the correlation, but this presentation doesn't yet convince me.

I suspect, though, that the strategy is real and that the Bush Administraton has tried to anticipate it's "discovery" by preventing terror alert releases from being too robotically reactive to political contingency - in a quite methodical fashion, actually, by the introduction of just enough randomness to undercut the accusation.

If I were Rove - and purely amoral - that's what I'd do.

Just saying.
posted by troutfishing at 5:21 PM on August 6, 2004


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