In a CNN poll released today, 49% approve of the job President Obama is doing. This is a jump from 44% a month ago.
Dr. J. from a poll methodology standpoint, the big red flag is that this looks at 1,015 individuals, only 928 of which are registered voters. This doesn’t even go into likely voters, but I suspect that this methodology is consistent from month to moth with regard to this specific poll. What is nice is that there are 814 landline respondents and 201 cell phone respondents.
Dr. J. dug into the .pdf for the poll. It didn’t give Dr. J. two things he is looking for. First is the breakdown of the percentage of poll takers by party affiliation and geographic distribution. If one is to read the tea leaves for election day, this information would be helpful. The second piece of information that would be useful are last weeks results and breakdown as well, so as to be able to adjust for problems with the sampling.
The biggest flaw in this poll is that they show data from different periods during the Obama presidency on a question by question basis.
For question 1, they list all of the approval polls since 2009. Fine.
For question 2/3 (a Likert scale of Q1), they compare 12/11 to 1/11, 4/10, 1/10, 8/9, 2/9, but not to 11/11. The change in approval rating (Q1) is compared against 11/11. There is probably something interesting when you compare to the fickle populace a month ago.
For question 4, personal likeability, they compare his ratings against different dates from Q2/3. That hasn’t changed over time, for whatever reason (Bradley Effect vs. a strong admiration for handsome-yet-smug-faculty-room-types-who-appear-happily-married-with-2-kids-and-a-dog).
Question 5 – this is where the rubber hits the road in the article AND the poll release. While Obama gained 5 points since last month in approval rating, the pollster states that it comes at a cost to Republicans in congress. That may be so, however they provide the 12/11 data against 3/11 data.
Obama’s gains have come at the expense of the Republicans in Congress and the GOP in general. By a 50% to 31% margin, people questioned say they have more confidence in the president than in congressional Republicans to handle the major issues facing the country. Obama held a much narrower 44% to 39% margin in March.
And the GOP’s overall favorable rating has dropped to six points, to 43%, since June, while the Democrats’ positive rating remained steady at 55%.
Again, (question 6) the Republican and Democratic Party favorabilities (not the President’s) are compared against June numbers.
Dr. J. is not going to touch question 6A regarding Congress’s approval rating because when you compare the approval ratings for individual congressmen averaged it is much greater than 16% otherwise we wouldn’t have the incumbency problem that we have.
Nevertheless, if the cracker-jack team from CNN are correct, this dip may be due, in part from the Democrats and their cheerleaders in the media misrepresenting the demagoguing of the payroll tax debate as President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and the D’s caring about the little guy while the big mean cigar chomping Republicans want to take a tax cut from the mouths of the poor to protect their fat cat friends. Shifts in middle class opinion are likely due to not wanting a 2% cut in their paycheck with the Christmas credit card bills due at the end of January.
The reality is that the original payroll tax holiday was a bad idea to begin with. First, theoretically, it is supposed to be a way that individuals fund part of their retirement via Social Security. The reality is that it is essentially a transfer payment where a part of Dr. J.’s pay is deducted and mailed to Mama J., who has a much nicer portfolio than Dr. J. Now, Mama J., in a delicious fit of irony, is saving that money up to leave to Lil Resident and Lil Medstudent. Even then, not enough money is coming in to cover the amount going out.
Secondly, what the payroll tax holiday did was give Obama a weapon, his ‘tax cut for the poor’ that could be distinctly contrasted from Bush’s (income) Tax Cuts For The Rich™. In order to get an extension of the current income tax rates at the end of 2010 (for the people who actually pay income tax) the Republicans had to agree to accelerate the rate at which Social Security would destabilize in order to decrease the likelihood of a double dip recession via a sunset on the current tax rates. As the payroll tax was due to expire and Henry Reid only seems to work the week before Christmas we are in the mess we are in. Many Republican congressmen want a payroll tax extension that is paid for with spending cuts AND covers the entire calendar year. It really doesn’t make sense to do it otherwise.
This poll would not have survived peer review for a scientific journal (at least the ones that Dr. J. reviews for), so this poll is simply an extension of the BO in ’12 (Because Everyone Stinks) campaign, a happy handshake from CNN on the way to Hawaii.