Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A worthy senior project 

We have our students write senior papers as their capstone expreience. Craig Depken has a great graph showing the relationship between gas prices and Bush's presidential approval ratings.
One of my current econometrics students is working on a similar hypothesis, trying to determine which is more important to presidential approval, accumulated U.S. deaths in Iraq or the price of gasoline. While the talking heads and the far left would have us believe it is the former, it is all too likely that it is really the latter.
I am not as sure, since it could well be that U.S. deaths in Iraq might be correlated with the price of gas. And of course there are other factors that influence the price of gas that might also influence presidential approval -- are gas prices higher when the economy is expanding, for example, which also moves presidential approval? But this would be a great example of senior project, if any of my students are reading here.