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February 28, 2006

Ports: CBS News & Cook/RT

Two new polls confirm the Rasmussen result discussed yesterday that shows Americans overwhelmingly oppose the deal to allow an Arab company to operate U.S. shipping ports.  The new surveys from CBS News (story, Bush results, Katrina results) and the Cook Political Report and RT Strategies (Charlie Cook column, results) also show significant drops in the approval rating of President George Bush since January.

The CBS and RT Strategies polls explain the ports issue in more detail, yet still show more than 60% of Americans now oppose to the deal: 

CBS News - As you may know, the Bush Administration has agreed to let a company from the United Arab Emirates run six shipping ports in the U.S., including ports in New York and New Orleans, that are now being run by a British company. Critics of the plan say that allowing a company from an Arab country to operate U.S. shipping ports is dangerous to national security. The Bush Administration says security will be protected by the U.S. and that the United Arab Emirates is a U.S. ally.  Do you think the U.S. should or should not let a United Arab Emirates company operate U.S. shipping ports?

21% Should
70% Should not
9% Don't know

RT Strategies - Here is something that has been in the news recently.  An Arab-government owned company has been cleared by the U.S. government to run major shipping operations at six major seaports here in the United States.  Some believe that this proposal could lead to a potential security threat at these U.S. ports, while President Bush disagrees.  Bush says the government has carefully made this decision and there is no security threat.  Do you think (ROTATE:) Congress should take special action to block the government's decision, or we should trust President Bush and his Administration in their decision?

27% Trust Bush
61% Block action
12% Not sure

Rasmussen Reports - Should Dubai Ports World Be Allowed to Buy Port Operating Rights?

17% Yes
64% No
19% Not sure

Both CBS and RT Strategies provide tabulations of these results by party ID, which suggest that the different question language used by the two pollsters matters mostly to Republicans.  On the CBS survey, 58% of Republicans say the U.S. "should not let a United Arab Emirates company operate U.S. shipping ports," while RT Strategies shows only 32% of Republicans believe "Congress should take special action to block the government's decision."  The difference is mostly likely the different language used in the alternative posed by the RT Strategies:  "or we should trust President Bush and his Administration in their decision?" 


All three survey organizations now show President Bush with a statistically significant decline in his job approval rating since their last survey:

  • CBS News shows an eight point decline Bush's approval rating, from 42% in late January to 34% on the most recent survey.
  • RT Strategies shows a seven point decline, from 47% approval in late January to 40% now.
  • Rasmussen's average result has declined from 47% earlier in February to 44% over the last six days. 

Tabulations of the Bush rating by party identification show that the declines cut across all partisan groups in both surveys:


Some will no doubt seize on the fact that the latest CBS News sample is a few points more Democratic on party ID (37%) than on their last three surveys (34% in late January, 33% in early January and 32% in December), although the Republican percentage (28%) is about the same as the last three surveys (27%, 29% and 28% respectively).  However, the difference in the party results does not explain the drop in the Bush job rating, which occurs across all three categories.

In fact, even when MP recalculates the CBS job approval results for the most recent survey using the average party composition reported on their last three surveys (33% Democrat, 28% Republican, 39% independent or other), the Bush approval percentage still rounds to 34%.   The reason is that my recalculation just increases the number of independents at the expense of Democrats.  However, Bush's rating is now so low among both subgroups as measured by CBS that the adjustment makes little difference.

Related Entries - Polls in the News, President Bush

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on February 28, 2006 at 07:51 AM in Polls in the News, President Bush | Permalink


The disparity in the CBS poll and the RT poll on the port matter shows how loaded the phrase "Trust Bush" is at this point.

Posted by: Jim | Feb 28, 2006 9:46:58 AM

How does a polling organization decide what mix to use of Rs,Ds, and Is? Specifically, do you know how CBS decides to weight their polls of Americans?

Posted by: MS in PS but not in Polling | Feb 28, 2006 12:04:25 PM

Similarly, how do polls correct for party ID when it might just be that fewer people consider themselves members of an increasingly unpopular party?

Posted by: David Weigel | Feb 28, 2006 1:54:04 PM

CBS says that they will re-weight the poll respondants to be sure they get the right numbers. So despite Gallup poll's recent admission that the party ID question is at best problematic and may swing polls by as much as 10%, CBS doesn't provide any justification in their poll reweighting. Despite the democrats continually underperforming in the presidential election polls vs the polled party ID and the republicans continually over performing, that the republicans average a 4% advantage in presidential popular vote since 1968 and that the 2004 exit polls showed the partys as even, CBS wants you to believe there is a 9% advantage over democrats over republicans after weighting. They say you can know its accurate because it comes from CBS. I thought they retired that line with Rather.

If you reweight the poll based on the 2004 exit polls, Bush magically gains 4 points of approval. The fact that two other polls done at the same time frame (Rasmussen and Cooke Rt strategies) are 6 and 9 points higher ought to give you a clue that this poll is an outlier and the weighting is suspect. Bush absolutely took a hit on the port deal. The immediate gut reaction is "Are you crazy?" But lets at least try to look at reality and not a distorted version.

Posted by: yetanotherjohn | Feb 28, 2006 1:59:56 PM

"The fact that two other polls done at the same time frame (Rasmussen and Cooke Rt strategies) are 6 and 9 points higher ought to give you a clue that this poll is an outlier and the weighting is suspect."

Uh, why isn't Rasmussen, which consitently gives Bush higher ratings than most other polls, at least as suspect? Rasmussen's party weighting is based on the assumption that the percentage of D's R's and I's is the same as in 2004. Yet if Bush's popularity has gone down since then--as *all* polls, including Rasmussen's, agree--it seems likely that fewer people than in 2004 identify themselves as Republicans.

Posted by: David T | Feb 28, 2006 6:10:30 PM

"Yet if Bush's popularity has gone down since then--as *all* polls, including Rasmussen's, agree--it seems likely that fewer people than in 2004 identify themselves as Republicans."

This seems like fallacious reasoning to me. The Dubai ports controversy is the story of the day - and it's largely an argument between conservatives. I see no reason why a conservative would switch party affiliation over this. It's like with religion. I disagree with the Pope and Curia about Papal Infallibility. But that doesn't mean I'm about to join another denomination. If the Pope doesn't like it, he can quit.

Posted by: Don | Mar 3, 2006 6:07:29 AM

Don: the point is that even before the Dubai ports agreement, Bush's popularity was substantially down from 2004. Now such a decline in popularity probably has *some* effect on people's party identification. It may not make Republicans into Democrats but it probably makes at least a few Republicans into Independents. My point is simply that to assume (as Rasmussen does) that Democratic-Republican-independent identification is frozen at 2004 levels is unrealistic.

Granted, most people's party identification is pretty stable. But there *are* changes at the margins, and Rasmussen's refusal to acknowledge this fact is probably one reason that Bush's ratings are a bit higher in Rasmussen than in other polls. (Though I note that today even in Rasmussen he's down to 42 percent.)

Posted by: David T | Mar 3, 2006 1:48:30 PM

ATT is in the process of buying Bell. They will be taking those jobs too over to India, just as they did with their employees jobs. They made an announcement today they would be doing away with thousands of employees in lieu of saying we will be sending our work out to India. You do not have to have an MBA in business to figure out how to save millions of dollars, just farm the jobs out for .30 an hour instead of a living wage. How American can that be.This merger should be disallowed, and as Anericans we should be very unhappy about more jobs being shipped abroad.Have we lost all regard for our fellow Americans.Looks like most large Corporations have and have no concience about it. I feel very sorry about the finacial hardship this will put on these people and their families at the expense of only more corporate greed.I would like to see the networks expose corporation who financial crush their fellow American and exploit people in third world contrys just to satisfy their own greed. This has to be truly anti American.

Posted by: mattson | Mar 6, 2006 10:29:50 PM

i would like to see if there is any vacancy
in your company of a chef on a cargo ship

10y experians
tanking you

Posted by: george camilleri | Aug 28, 2006 5:23:39 AM

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