Explaining Improbable Data
My initial reaction was to defy the data on the grounds that Presidents don't have such tight control over the economy and the policies favored by Democrats (e.g., increasing the minimum wage) tend to be counterproductive. I then noticed other recent research by Charles Karelis (seen via Dr. Helen) who claimed that the irrational behavior by the poor might be due to feeling overwhelmed:
My examination of the partisan politics of economic in equality, in chapter 2, reveals that Democratic and Republican presidents over the past half-century have presided over dramatically different patterns of income growth. On average, the real incomes of middle- class families have grown twice as fast under Democrats as they have under Republicans, while the real incomes of working poor families have grown six times as fast under Democrats as they have under Republicans. These substantial partisan differences persist even after allowing for differences in economic circumstances and historical trends beyond the control of individual presidents. They suggest that escalating in equality is not simply an inevitable economic trend— and that a great deal of economic in equality in the contemporary United States is specifically attributable to the policies and priorities of Republican presidents.
Once the poor have been brainwashed into believing that Republican electoral victories are a problem, they might be more inclined to adopt bad habits in response. Clearly, the most effective anti-poverty program is for Democrats to shut down their political campaigns …
Karelis, a professor at George Washington University, has a simpler but far more radical argument to make: traditional economics just doesn't apply to the poor. When we're poor, Karelis argues, our economic worldview is shaped by deprivation, and we see the world around us not in terms of goods to be consumed but as problems to be alleviated. This is where the bee stings come in: A person with one bee sting is highly motivated to get it treated. But a person with multiple bee stings does not have much incentive to get one sting treated, because the others will still throb. The more of a painful or undesirable thing one has (i.e. the poorer one is) the less likely one is to do anything about any one problem. Poverty is less a matter of having few goods than having lots of problems.