Thursday, September 23, 2010

Catch of the Day

One more from the Pledge: the Catch goes to TNR's Alexander Hart, who noticed some funny business in the way the Republicans scaled a key graph in the Pledge.  Paging Andrew Gelman!  Plain Blog policy prevents me from showing it to you, but that's OK; you'll want to click over to it anyway.  Nice catch!

(I suppose I should say in the spirit of full disclosure that Hart's post appears at Citizen Cohn, and while I'm not sure I've mentioned it here, I've been crossposting an item a day to Jonathan Cohn's blog.  Nevertheless, I assure you that we here at Plain Blog maintain a rigorous firewall (note intentional awkward wording) between our "catch of the day" department and our "get people to read more Bernstein" department). 


  1. Federal spending as percent of GDP hasn't been below 17% since before WW2. Looking at the range between 17% and 24% seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable way of comparing changes in that figure. Describing the clearly labeled graph as 'dishonest' is tendentious.

  2. David,

    The problem is that the graph is set up to be misread; a quick glance would leave someone thinking that the share of GDP has doubled under Obama, which of course isn't anywhere close to the case. Note that Hart has now tossed in a graph supplied by Ezra Klein; note too that Gelman has (as I suspected) chimed in:


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