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Tim Lambert has more on the article inexplicably discussed by the Times:

The trouble with their study is that the economy was stronger under Clinton than under either Bush, so of course the reporting of the economy under Clinton was more positive. Lott and Hassett claim to have controlled for this with a multivariate analysis but you should only find this persuasive if you have complete confidence in the competence and integrity of the authors. When building such models there are so many choices you can make that it easy to get the results that you want to see. In this case it is particularly easy, since all you have to do is leave out a relevant variable so that the state of the economy is not fully controlled for and you will get results like Lott and Hassett report.

We probably should not have complete confidence in Lott and Hassett.

I believe the contest for “dry, witty understatement of the year” is now closed.

The other thing that interests me about this is the attempted hegemony of those who are trying to make political science depend more on econometric models. To state the obvious, when dealing with social phenomena, econometric models are no more “objective” than qualitative research; they’re just one more step removed from the contestable choices of variables on which the results depend.

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