Barack’s Bounce

Today the New York Times trumpeted its own poll which purported so show growing support for Barack Obama and growing optimism about the economy. In the Times’ poll, Obama’s approval rating was up to 66 percent. Not only that, the poll appeared to be bad news for Republicans:

By contrast, just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.

Why might that be? TimesWatch reviewed the raw data on which the poll was based:

The demographic breakdown of poll respondents at the end of the poll show a huge gap between the parties:

39% Democrats
23% Republicans
30% Independents

Intriguingly, the last page of the CBS copy of the poll, but not the Times’, breaks out the demographic numbers further, showing the “weighted” sample (which is where the poll got the 39%-23% breakdown) but also showing the “unweighted,” raw number sample (showing the Democrats with a more modest 35%-26.5% lead in respondents).

The secret “weighting” ingredients used by the Times and CBS somehow managed to double the lead of Democratic respondents from the raw 8.5 points to a yawning 16 points.

There is no conceivable basis for believing that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 39-23 percent. The respondents in the Times’ poll who claim they voted went for Obama by 18 points, while Obama in fact won by 7. So the Times deliberately dummied up the numbers, putting its thumb on the scale to create mythical Democratic voters in order to make Obama look good and the Republicans look bad. Adam Nagourney and his editors at the Times then turned these made-up numbers into charts and graphs which they published above the fold. Evidently, the Times is trying to create a bandwagon effect on behalf of its party’s leader.

Which doesn’t mean, of course, that Obama didn’t get a bounce from his European tour. A more realistic measurement of the bounce comes from Scott Rasmussen. Rasmussen finds that Obama’s “approval index,” the difference between those who strongly approve and those who strongly disapprove, has moved to +8:


Overall, 58 percent approve of Obama in Rasmussen’s survey. This represents an interruption in what has been, until now, a more or less steady decline in the President’s approval rating. No surprise, I think, in view of the gushing coverage of Obama’s just-completed trip to Europe. Michelle Obama’s approval rating rose by six points for the same reason.

I didn’t see much of the television coverage, but the visuals were obviously good–America’s President being cheered by European crowds–and our media didn’t trouble viewers and readers with the fact that Obama got little or nothing by way of help in Afghanistan, bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, and didn’t know that “Austrian” isn’t a language. It helps quite a bit when reporters and editors are members of your party!

Over the past week, television viewers were seeing Obama at his best, as what we used to call a “face man.” If you take substance out of the picture, he does a fine job.

My guess, though, is that footage of Obama with the Queen won’t cut much ice when attention is re-focused on the economy and the generally unpopular measures that Obama has urged to deal with the recession.


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