Is Gallup Showing a Bias for Obama?
On Friday, Gallup posted a report that tried to downplay Obama’s abysmal approval rating. This and another recent post show that the pollster may not be as unbiased as they would have Americans believe.
In an article entitled “As Economic Confidence Drops, Obama Approval Fairly Stable”, Gallup’s Frank Newport makes the assertion that although Obama’s approval rating has dropped yet another 4 percentage points to 42%, the economic confidence index has dropped further and faster.
The logic Mr. Newport is trying to use is that even though Americans are losing faith in the ability of the economy to turn around, they don’t seem to be blaming Obama – nothing could be further from the truth.
First, Obama’s approval rating dropped another point to 41% today. It is now 1 point from his 52-week low of 40% and the trend is clearly down.
Second, the reason why there is not a one-for-one correlation between the confidence index and the approval rating is that there are hard-line left-wing supporters of the President that would support him no matter what. So while they would have no trouble saying that the economy is in trouble, the Obama faithful would still show their approval of him.
What should be even more concerning to the President’s re-election effort is how he compares to his predecessor, George W. Bush. After 928 days in office Bush was at 60% approval while Obama was at 42%. At the end of Bush’s stay in office his approval rating was still 10 points higher than the currently struggling Obama.
One article does not a standard set. Gallup supplied more. On August 8th, another post with the title “Obama Job Approval 50% or Higher in 16 States and D.C.” was published. While watching his ratings sink, the pollster uses the title to spin a positive message out of an obviously terrible one.
D.C. isn’t a state, but it does get 3 electoral votes as set forth in the 23rd amendment to the Constitution so there is some latitude to be given for their error. Using D.C. as a state helps to paint a better picture for the President – he has 17 states instead of 16 that hold a favorable rating of the President. Percentage wise, the numbers aren’t that different, but the perception is the key. People see “top ten states” knowing that there are 50 states and they don’t read the details to see how Gallup found an extra state for the President. It makes for a slightly more favorable statement than actual fact would have. If we use Gallup’s logic, there are now 51 states – only 6 short of Obama’s count.
The post continues by trying to make the same assertion as the first article:
Obama’s national half-year average approval rating of 47% matches his average nationwide approval rating for all of 2010. As such, there has been little meaningful change since 2010 in his ratings at the state level as well.
The pollster has no concern that Obama is down significantly in August from his previous half-year rating. Further, a demonstrated bias appears in the “implications” section of the report.
a key for Obama is to try to push his national approval rating back above the 50% mark before November 2012, and to have it at or above that level in as many states as possible, given that the presidential election will be determined by the winner of the greater number of state electoral votes.
Is Gallup showing a bias towards Obama? Number are numbers, but as they say, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.