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May 09, 2006

Good News, Bad News & The Blogosphere

The last few days have been busy in terms of new national polls released, yet the commentary on those polls in the blogosphere strikes me as typical.  Partisans on both sides (though mostly on the liberal side this time) seized at the several different polls that appear to tell different stories, when the reality -- as usual -- appears to fall somewhere in the middle.

The gist is that a new survey released yesterday by USAToday/Gallup (story, Gallup report) featured yet another "new low" of 31% for the Bush job approval rating (down from 34% on their survey a week earlier).  Meanwhile, the second survey released by the new CNN/ORC partnership (story, data) showed a slight increase in the Bush job rating, from 32% on a survey conducted two week ago to 34% now.   Of course, neither of these changes were large enough to be statistically significant, although both the Gallup and ORC surveys were conducted on the same dates (May 5-7).   

Meanwhile, yet another survey released by Fox News late last week -- this one of registered voters rather than adults (story, results) -- showed a Bush's job approval rating "rebound[ing] slightly" to 38% from a "record low" of 33% two weeks ago.  This change does appear statistically significant, although the job rating on the previous poll (33%) represented a big drop from surveys conducted by Fox in early April (36%) and mid March (39%).

What caught MP's eye was the way the blogosphere reacted to the 31% result from Gallup.   Not surprisingly, according to USAToday "On Deadline" feature, the Gallup 31% result was "the most-discussed news among bloggers" yesterday afternoon.  And a quick check of that Technorati listing they cited shows commentary on most of the well known liberal blogs and news sites:   TalkingPointsMemo, DailyKos, Atrios, MyDD, Huffington Post, TheLeftCoaster and DemocraticUnderground, among others.   

Not surprisingly, the conservative blogs had little if anything to say about the latest Gallup poll. A quick check shows nothing, for example on Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, Captain's Quarters, Little Green Footballs (although I make no claim of having done a truly exhaustive search).   Polipundit -- a site that often features scathing criticism of mainstream media polling -- was the one exception I found. 

On the other hand, I was a bit surprised at how little attention the "rebound" numbers in the Fox poll received from conservative web sites.  Technorati shows very few posts that linked to either the Fox story or the results on any blogs, left or right.  Two prominent conservative sites -- Captain's Quarters and Polipundit -- linked to the Fox poll, but so did the liberal site MyDD.

Nonetheless, the pattern is not uncommon.  Partisan political blogs seem to shower attention on polls that show the most dramatic "good news" for their side, and tend to ignore polls showing possibly contradictory results.  The relatively sparse attention paid to the Fox News survey is probably evidence of a general wariness of polls among conservative blogs a period where all seem to bring bad news for the President (a point made vehemently, if indirectly, in this post by Polipundit's DJ Drummond). 

Yet as is also typical, the reality of the change in the Bush job approval rating over the last week or so is neither as dramatically dire as the Gallup result suggests nor as hopeful as the apparent "rebound" in the Fox poll.  Check the latest update to Professor Franklin's graphic (reproduced below) and his commentary yesterday (here, here and here).  Gallup's 31% is on the low side of the usual cloud of variation, Fox's 38% is on the high side.  The long steady decline in the Bush rating continues.  Collectively, the polls released over the last few days leave the rate of descent in Franklin's trend line looking more or less as it did two weeks ago


Related Entries - Polling & the Blogosphere, President Bush

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on May 9, 2006 at 06:31 PM in Polling & the Blogosphere, President Bush | Permalink


As someone on the right, I saw the Fox poll, but then noticed that there were a disproportionate number of Republicans polled (Fox states this in their analysis), and pretty much dismissed the rebound as statistical noise.

I think the Gallup poll is noise as well. In truth, the president is at a low level but it is unclear if the trend is up or down, which also seems to be confirmed in the daily Rassmussen tracking poll.

Posted by: bobm | May 9, 2006 7:55:47 PM

What it is is: Republicans are losing faith in Republican pollsters. As with any revolutionary movement on the downslope, Conservatives have lost faith in their own bullshit.

Posted by: bigcitylib | May 9, 2006 9:28:40 PM

....while lieberals continue to swallow their own feces like candy. Funny thing is Conservatives in highly contested races continue to poll better. Whatever Bush's problems are, there is significant evidence that is is not accecting other Republicans hardly at all.

Posted by: SmalltownConservative | May 9, 2006 9:48:11 PM

I've come to put more faith in political futures markets (like the ones on tradesports.com) than in polls. I'd love to see a post comparing futures markets and polls. Perhaps, you've already done one and could point me to it--I'm a new reader.

Posted by: McCoy | May 9, 2006 10:38:37 PM

And, another one: CBS has him at 31% now as well...

Posted by: Pb | May 9, 2006 10:55:30 PM

If they had any honor or class, Bush and Cheney would spare us any more of the embarrassment of our long national nightmare and resign. Don't they get that 70% of the country and 98% of the world hate them and think they are a complete disgrace?

Posted by: Aaron | May 10, 2006 8:20:52 AM

The United States really needs to adopt a mechanism for having votes of no confidence in our leaders, and calling for early elections to oust them ahead of schedule, like what many European countries have. It's clear Bush can no longer lead, the country has given up on him, and we shouldn't be forced to keep him as president through 2008. It's a very constraining, inflexible system we have. It's debilitating to the country having someone so unpopular stuck in office.

Posted by: Aaron | May 10, 2006 8:49:15 AM

Beginning with Kerry's feeble 2004 convention bump, and intensifying after Labor Day with Kerry's failure to surge, dailyKos obsessed on the idea that polls -- all the polls -- were either meaningless garbage, or deliberately cooked to make Bush look good.

This included elaborate mathematical "proofs" to the effect that Gallup results were pure fabrications, with supporting detail generated to match GOP-dictated top line results.

Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Or is someone holding the glass upside down?

(That said, I must confess I like the idea of "Baskin-Robbins Day" to celebrate W hitting 31.)

Posted by: RonK, Seattle | May 10, 2006 11:26:19 AM

The Daily Show a week later used a version of the above graph to argue that Bush's immigration speech wasn't about protecting the Mexican-US border but protecting his poll numbers which has a similar shape.

Posted by: Easter Lemming Liberal News | May 17, 2006 7:09:46 AM

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