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ink
08-31-2008, 01:08 PM
Moving this over from another thread ...


How Good Are Experienced Presidents?

Suppose you had to choose between two Presidential candidates, one of whom had spent 20 years in Congress plus had considerable other relevant experience and the other of whom had about half a dozen years in the Illinois state legislature and 2 years in Congress. Which one do you think would make a better President? If you chose #1, congratulations, you picked James Buchanan over Abraham Lincoln. Your pick disagrees with that of most historians, who see Lincoln as the greatest President ever and Buchanan as the second worst ever, better only than Warren "Teapot Dome" Harding. Both served in what was probably the most difficult period in American history, where slavery and secession tore the nation asunder.

Before becoming President, Buchanan had served 6 years in the Pennsylvania state legislature, 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, 4 years as ambassador to Russia, 10 years in the Senate, 4 years as Secretary of State, and 4 years as Ambassador to England. Talk about experience, Buchanan did just about everything except serve on the Supreme Court, a job he was offered by President Polk and refused. Yet by any measure, he wasn't up to the job as President. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln served 8 years in the Illinois legislature and one term in the U.S. House (1847-1849), a decade before becoming President. The rest of the time he was a lawyer in private practice, a bit thin one might say.

Source: electoral-vote.com (http://electoral-vote.com/evp2008/Info/experience.html)

I highly recommend the tables on this web page. They break down the specific experience each president had before taking office.

ink
08-31-2008, 01:15 PM
From the same web page:


All experience is not the same. How do you compare being governor of a small state with being governor of a big state? Is being Vice President worth a pitcher of warm beer or any other fluid? Is being a state senator more or less relevant to being president than being Secretary of Commerce? Impossible to say for sure, so I have just added up the total number of years of experience as a proxy for experience. If you want to weight the columns differently, the data are available in both Excel format and .csv format so you can slice and dice them as you wish. Before becoming a data analyst though, you should a first read the Notes on presidential experience document David wrote.

Now for the test. In the table below, the Presidents are sorted on experience. The most experienced President was James Buchanan, with Lyndon Johnson and Jerry Ford getting the silver and bronze medals, respectively. Chester A. Arthur had a mere 1.5 years experience before he was elevated to the Presidency upon the assassination of President Garfield. If experience and greatness correlate, one would expect the top half of the table (the most experienced Presidents) to be mostly green (good) and the bottom half (inexperienced) to be mostly red (bad). If there is no correlation, the red and green should be random. Indeed, the latter seems to be the case. The top half in terms of experience (above the gray bar) has 11 bad Presidents and 10 good ones, essentially no correlation between greatness and experience. If you don't like this result and want to try for a better one, just get the spreadsheet and start weighting the columns. Undoubtedly you will be able to get a different result if you try hard enough. But the point remains, the Presidents with a lot of experience have not been more outstanding than those with little experience.

There is also a scatterplot graph that plots the relationship between greatness of president and experience.


Here is a scatterplot of rank vs. experience. If more experience makes you a better President, the dots, each of which is one President, should fall somewhere along the blue theoretical curve--more experience gives you a higher rank (1 being the highest rank). The two Bushes and Clinton are not shown since it is much too early to draw historical judgments on them. One needs a very vivid imagination to perceive the data points falling along the blue line. There does not appear to be any relation between experience and greatness.

Source: electoral-vote.com (http://electoral-vote.com/evp2008/Info/experience.html)

(scroll down to the bottom of the page for scatterplot graph)

LAKERMANIA
08-31-2008, 01:42 PM
Very nice. I always thought having experience doesn't always equal to success.. But most people just like to throw that experience card at Obama so they have a reason not to vote for him

dbroncos78087
08-31-2008, 02:30 PM
I love the beginning quote.

PUGS1688
08-31-2008, 04:42 PM
Experience plays no roll in who I pick to be the next president. I look for someone with the same views of mine and those of the founding fathers of our nation. Therefore I will not be voting for McCain or Obama.

gcoll
08-31-2008, 05:35 PM
So, the outcome is that there is no correlation?

Yeah. That seems about right. So when Bill Clinton makes a comment about nothing being able to prepare you for the presidency.....he makes a good point.

I don't think this completely nullifies the experience argument though.


Experience plays no roll in who I pick to be the next president. I look for someone with the same views of mine and those of the founding fathers of our nation. Therefore I will not be voting for McCain or Obama.
The founding fathers lived in a completely different world though.

Also. You aren't voting? Or are you writing someone in? Barr? You voting for Barr?

PUGS1688
08-31-2008, 05:50 PM
So, the outcome is that there is no correlation?

Yeah. That seems about right. So when Bill Clinton makes a comment about nothing being able to prepare you for the presidency.....he makes a good point.

I don't think this completely nullifies the experience argument though.


The founding fathers lived in a completely different world though.

Also. You aren't voting? Or are you writing someone in? Barr? You voting for Barr?

I'll either write in Paul or I'll vote Barr. If I don't that, I just won't vote. I'm exremely fed up with democrats AND republicans. They both lie, they're both corrupted and I'm not falling for the BS they throw in front of me.

New age? Sure it is, but the way the government should be ran doesn't have to change.

ari1013
09-01-2008, 12:25 PM
I'll either write in Paul or I'll vote Barr. If I don't that, I just won't vote. I'm exremely fed up with democrats AND republicans. They both lie, they're both corrupted and I'm not falling for the BS they throw in front of me.

New age? Sure it is, but the way the government should be ran doesn't have to change.
What exactly to you mean with "but the way the government should be ran [sic] doesn't have to change."?

Essentially the government runs exactly the same way it always has. The only things that are a little different are that we don't vote on a separate Pres and VP, we vote on a ticket. Congress still writes laws. The President still signs laws. The Supreme Court still interprets laws.

ink
09-01-2008, 12:41 PM
From the same web page:



There is also a scatterplot graph that plots the relationship between greatness of president and experience.



Source: electoral-vote.com (http://electoral-vote.com/evp2008/Info/experience.html)

(scroll down to the bottom of the page for scatterplot graph)

I noticed in another thread that someone disparaged the "graphs" posted here. Think of it like stats in any sport, since this is a sports website: you can work them any way you want. The author even welcomes it by showing where the raw data is so you can weigh the years/value of experience as you choose. Some posters have realized that the work this guy has done is pretty conclusive and obvious - there's no correlation between "experience" and "success" in a good President.

Like the guy says, the raw data is there if you want to prove a different conclusion. But the difference is that instead of partisan opinions about how this candidate doesn't have the requisite experience, there are now numbers on every president in US history just waiting there for interpretation.

If the American voter had listened to the experience argument, they may never have had Abraham Lincoln as a president. Interesting how the "inexperienced" can change the course a country takes.

yaowowrocket11
09-01-2008, 06:15 PM
Very interesting statistics. Shows how experience doesn't equal success.

PUGS1688
09-01-2008, 06:32 PM
What exactly to you mean with "but the way the government should be ran [sic] doesn't have to change."?

Essentially the government runs exactly the same way it always has. The only things that are a little different are that we don't vote on a separate Pres and VP, we vote on a ticket. Congress still writes laws. The President still signs laws. The Supreme Court still interprets laws.

So then what does what does the other poster mean when he says the world has changed since our founding fathers were in office?

ari1013
09-01-2008, 08:45 PM
So then what does what does the other poster mean when he says the world has changed since our founding fathers were in office?
That we're not living in the 18th century any longer. That certain statutes need updating. Our founding fathers viewed blacks as 3/5's of a person. Should that not have been updated?

You can update content without changing the mode of operations.

gcoll
09-03-2008, 12:02 PM
So then what does what does the other poster mean when he says the world has changed since our founding fathers were in office?
Uhhh....we weren't a superpower when the country was founded.

World War 2 hadn't happened.

The Great Depression had not happened.

Things change, that change how a country should operate. The logistics change. The circumstances change. The world changes. You can't really ask the question "What would the founding fathers do in this situation?" because there is really no way to know.