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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Friday, September 4, 2009

No power in numbers

In a column that will appear on page A6 of the Sunday Freeman this weekend, conservative columnist Cal Thomas, palpably giddy, will report that President Barack Obama has a 46 percent job approval rating in the latest Rasmussen Poll.

Thomas is correct. Scott Rasmussen's latest poll, conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, indeed has Obama at 46 percent.

But what Thomas doesn't tell you is that Rasmussen is like the East German judges at the Olympics during the Cold War. His numbers are (and always have been) ridiculously out of whack when measured against the results of other major polls, and they should be discarded as slanted and unreliable.

According to the Web site realclearpolitics.com, Obama's job approval ratings in various major polls over the last week or so are as follows.

CBS News: 56%
Ipsos-McClatchy: 56%
Gallup: 55%
CNN/Opinion Research: 53%
Pew Research: 52%
and, yes, Rasmussen: 46%

Obama isn't nearly as unpopular with Americans as Cal Thomas would like to believe. And citing the one and only poll that supports his argument doesn't change the facts.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Martin McPhillips said...

You write: "Rasmussen is like the East German judges at the Olympics during the Cold War. His numbers are (and always have been) ridiculously out of whack when measured against the results of other major polls, and they should be discarded as slanted and unreliable."

I've followed the various polls from time to time, sometimes daily, sometimes not for months, and I've never seen anything that warrants a comment like that about Rasmussen.

Daily tracking polls are dynamic and today (9/7), for instance, Rasmussen has Obama's approval number up slightly at 48, while Gallup's latest has the approval number down slightly at 52.

The big difference between these two polls is that right now Gallup is only polling 'adults,' while Rasmussen is polling 'likely voters.' In fact, the Real Clear Politics poll page that you cite gives the results of six polls, three of which are currently polling 'adults,' and two of which are polling 'registered voters.'

Only Rasmussen is polling 'likely voters,' the category that most closely indicates how an officeholder or candidate is doing with people who are regular voters.

There is nothing unusual about a disparity between results from 'likely voters' and the other two categories ('adults' and 'registered voters').

September 7, 2009 at 10:32 PM 
Blogger Kevin Filipski.... said...

'Likely voters' 3 years and 2 months before the next election?

That's relevant.

September 7, 2009 at 11:12 PM 
Blogger Martin McPhillips said...

'Relevant'?

It's an approval-disapproval poll.

The 'likely voters' sample reflects more accurately the electorate that, for instance, voted for or against Obama in the last election. The 'adults' sample used by Gallup includes people who don't vote or are not even registered to vote. The 'registered voters' sample includes people who are registered but do not routinely vote.

But the point of my comment was that Rasmussen is not a "ridiculously out of whack" poll. It tracks pretty much along similar lines as the Gallup poll with discrepencies being accounted for by the different sample ('likely voters').

September 8, 2009 at 8:06 AM 
Blogger Jeremy Schiffres, City Editor said...

I agree with Mr. Filipski.
The issue at hand is whether people approve of the job the president is doing, not whether they plan to vote for him in November 2012.
I, for one, am interested in the options of the broadest possible sampling of Americans, not just the ones who say they probably will go to the polls more than three years from now.

September 8, 2009 at 3:04 PM 

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