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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Abramowitz: Obama’s Popularity Solid, Despite Cherry-picking Poll-spinners

The following article is cross-posted from an e-blast by Alan Abramowitz, author of The Polarized Pubic, and Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, Emory University:
It’s become the latest trope among some of the Washington commentariat. And not just among the usual right wing bloggers and pundits like the WaPo’s irrepressible Jennifer Rubin. There’s just one problem with this claim . . . it’s not true. Or at least it’s greatly exaggerated. What we seem to have here is yet another example of the MSM along with conservative pundits and news outlets cherry picking the polling data.
I compared Obama’s net approval rating (approval-disapproval) in the seven most recent polls (Rasmussen, Fox, Gallup, YouGov/Economist, ABC/WP, NBC/WSJ and Pew with polls done by the same organizations in late June (or earlier if there was no June poll–the previous NBC/WSJ poll was done in May). Three polls showed an improvement while four showed a decline. On average, these seven polls showed a net approval rating of -1 for Obama now compared with . . . are you ready, a net approval rating of -1 for Obama in their earlier polling.
Yes, a couple of these polls (NBC/WSJ and Pew) showed drops in net approval of 6 points. But a couple (Fox and Rasmussen) actually showed improvements that were just as large. So maybe everyone should take a deep breath and wait for some more polling data–there just aren’t a lot of polls being released these days other than the regular Gallup and Rasmussen trackers) so the averages can easily be influenced by one or two outliers. Obama’s approval numbers have declined a bit since early 2013 when he was still benefiting from a modest post-election bounce. But so far there’s no convincing evidence that his ratings have continued declining in the past few weeks. A glance at the Gallup weekly results shows that the same divisions that have existed in the past and that were present in the 2012 election are still very much in evidence but that Obama’s popularity with the groups that make up his core constituency remains strong.

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