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October 7, 2009
How About Those Obama Approval Ratings?
New AP-GfK poll results were released Tue., Oct. 6 revealing that Barack Obama’s approval rating is up 6 points from last month to 56 percent. It’s the first his ratings have gone up since taking office.
Just five day prior, the same day Obama was rejected in Copenhagen, it was announced that the unemployment rate hit 9.8 percent.
I found the 56 percent number not credible. So I went to the AP-GfK webpage. I wanted to know how the question was framed and to whom it was presented.
The question seems fair enough: “Overall, please tell me whether you approve, disapprove, or neither approve nor disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president.” Some questions of clarification are then asked, e.g., “Is that strongly approve or somewhat approve?” The responses are broken up into six categories: Strongly approve; somewhat approve; lean toward approve; lean toward disapprove; somewhat disapprove; strongly disapprove.
Who knows whether there is any effect to stating “approve” before “disapprove” when asking the question. In both basic categories, 27 percent “strongly” approve and 27 percent “strongly” disapprove of Obama. Maybe they should just keep the poll simple: Approve or Disapprove.
One factor I find interesting is the polling question directly preceding Obama’s approval rating question. The prior question is: “When you think about how things are going in your life in general, would you say you are very happy, somewhat happy, neither happy nor unhappy, somewhat unhappy or very unhappy.”
Since most people want to admit to being “happy,” the order of the questions is somewhat suspect to me. After a person answers, “happy,” which 78 percent did, the very next question turns to approval or disapproval of Obama. And Lord knows our generation believes that the President is responsible for providing jobs, making people happy, etc.
I wanted to know whether the same formula was put forth when polling about George Bush. Unfortunately, the website archives don’t go back that far.
Also, it’s interesting that the poll methodology is not listed for this particular poll. We only know that 1,003 adults were surveyed; there is a 3.1 Margin or error; and the results supposedly carry a 95% confidence level.
Data on the website from a past poll indicates that, “The survey sample included the contiguous 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii.”
The problem, of course, is that even if the methodology applies to the present poll we have no way of knowing whether all the states were part of the survey. If they were, we still don’t know the geographic ratio.
If the producer of the AP-GfK poll wanted to give Obama a much needed bounce, controlling the regions surveyed might just do it. If a disproportionate number of calls were made to the San Francisco bay area or Massachusetts, the public would have no way of knowing it. I wonder if we could get the phone numbers of the people surveyed via a freedom of information request?
Until I get more information I don’t trust the poll results. Not in context of rising unemployment rates, the out-of-control spending of the administration and the overwhelming rejection of government health care.
From the perspective of the right, Obama has been very active, taking over businesses, appointing a legion of radical czars and creating trillions upon trillions of unprecedented debt.
From the perspective of the left, Obama has done nothing. He hasn’t even closed Guantanamo Bay yet.
So, how on earth is Obama’s approval rating rising? He only got 53 percent of the vote and has further divided, not united the country. I think the poll result is “fishy.”