January 21, 2007 - January 27, 2007


POLL: Zogby National Survey

A new Zogby telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters (conducted 1/24 - 1/26) finds 32% approve of Bush's job performance; 68% disapprove.

POLLS: Gallup Analyses

Additional analyses from recent Gallup national surveys find:

  • A "boost" in Congressional Approval ratings since the Democratic takeover.
  • A "misuse of polls and public opinion by pundits and politicians" (video).

Time's Election Index

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

In addition to their new national survey that we posted on yesterday, Time is debuting a new "Election Index" feature. In a related piece on the surprisingly early start to the election season, Time's Karen Tumulty describes it as follows:

To track voter sentiment--and candidates' odds of winning--TIME is launching the Election Index, a regular feature that will pinpoint the intersection of how much Americans know about each candidate and how much they like what they see. The surprising news is that this week's Election Index puts former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani ahead of Arizona Senator John McCain, despite the latter's formidable organization and resources, for the top spot in the G.O.P. Hillary Clinton leads the Democrats, but the Election Index (see page 34) shows she has slightly less potential general-election support than Giuliani.

The index (shown graphically for Democrats and Republicans) appears to combine survey measures data other than the traditional horse race question (the percentage who have never heard of a candidate and, among those who know the candidate, the percentage that are favorable, will definitely support that candidate or think they will win) with non-survey measures (betting odds and number of blog posts linking to a candidates web site).  I say "appears" because Time does does not tell us exactly how they constructed the index nor what the precise score is for each candidate.  The graphic rank orders the candidates -- and Tumulty's piece tells us that  

Hopefully more details will follow.  Meanwhile, the brief introduction of the feature makes this entirely valid point about the shortcomings of early trial heat results:

Pundits and bloggers would do well to tape a copy of these poll results, from ABC-Washington Post in January of 2003, on their monitors/mirrors/most viewed flat surface in their office:

Joseph Lieberman 27 Richard Gephardt 14 John Edwards 11 John Kerry 10 Al Sharpton 7 Howard Dean 3 Don't know 24

Looking back at the last open GOP race, over a year and half out from election day, the results are less shocking than the prospect of a Lieberman-Gephardt ticket, but they do tend to support the hypothesis that early polls aren't so much even popularity contests as trivia quizzes (The question being, "Have you ever heard of this person before?")


A new Public Policy Polling automated survey of 501 likely voters in North Carolina (conducted 1/22) finds:

  • 57% oppose "Bush's plan to send 22,000 additional troops to Iraq."
  • Gov. Mike Easley (D) runs three points ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Dole (44% to 41%) in a hypothetical match-up for the '08 Senate race.

Pres08: National vs State Primary Polls

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race


Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are doing better in national polling than in the critical early primary and caucus states. Clinton leads all national Democratic polls, while Giuliani leads McCain in 33 of 43 national polls. But neither candidate does as well when we turn to the polling from the early voting states. Conversely, John Edwards does considerably better in all but two state polls than he does nationally.

Clinton's national support is significantly higher than it is in Iowa and New Hampshire. Nevada and South Carolina (with only 3 polls together) are just about equal to her national standing.

Giuliani has seen some convergence in state and national polls, though his current national support is still above support in three of the states, IA, NH and SC.

The sharpest contrast is with Edwards who does considerably better in IA, NH and SC than he does nationally. Nevada is again the state closest to his national standing.

McCain, Obama and Gingrich show the states spread around their national numbers. McCain in particular has seen some apparent decline in NH over the past 12 months, bringing initially favorable NH number down to his national levels. South Carolina with only 4 polls appears to have slipped a bit as well, but remains well above the national. In Iowa, McCain does no better but also not much worse than he does nationally. The trend in NH must, of course, be of concern for his campaign. Likewise, McCain's national support has been essentially flat over the past year.

In Obama's case, there are relatively few polls so trends are not yet clear. There is not a wide gap between state and nation, though the national is a bit above most of the state polls.

Gingrich is still well behind Giuliani and McCain and his state polling if pretty evenly distributed above and below the national trend. Given the limited nature of his campaign so far there have been few events to affect these trends.

As we all know, the early primary states are not a representative sample of the country, so divergence of state from national polls is to be expected. But the political consequences of doing well nationally but less well in these four states can be profound. We'll keep an eye on these trends.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

POLL: Rasmussen Richardson vs.

A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 800 likely voters (conducted 1/22 and 1/23) finds:

  • Gov. Bill Richardson is four points behind Sen. John McCain (39% to 43%) and fifteen points behind former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (34% to 49%) in a general election match-up for president.
  • 35% to 27% view Gov. Richardson favorably, while 38% "don't know enough to have an opinion."

Sampling Error - What It Isn't

Topics: Sampling

Back to basics for a moment, to a point we cannot make often enough. Yes, polls report a "margin of error," which derives from the random variation that comes from drawing a sample rather than interviewing the full population. But that is all it is. The "margin of error" statistic is not an overall measure of quality and can tell you nothing about the potential for other sources of error, including as a bias from missing certain voters (such as those who lack a landline telephone or who hang up when called) or from asking questions in a way that produces misleading results.

A friend sent this take on sampling error from Good Math, Bad Math, a blog by a computer scientist:

People frequently believe that the margin of error is a measure of the quality of a statistic - that is, that a well-designed poll will have a smaller margin of error than a poorly-designed poll. It doesn't - the MoE only represents sampling errors! A great poll with a sample size of 100 will virtually always have a considerably larger MoE than a terrible poll with a sample size of 1000. If you want to know the quality of a poll, you need to know more information it than just the margin of error; If you want to gauge the relative quality of two different polls, you need to know more than just the margin of error. In either case, you really need to know the sample size, how the sample was collected, and most importantly exactly what they measure.

It's worth a click.

POLL: ASU Statewide Survey

A new Cronkite-Eight statewide telephone survey of 600 registered voters in Arizona finds:

  • Among Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama (at 29%) is slightly ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton (23%) for the Democratic nomination.
  • Among Republicans, Sen. John McCain (at 54%) leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (14%) for the Republican nomination.
  • 28% of Democrats and Republicans would like to see Sen. John McCain become the next president. 20% would like to see that of Sen. Barack Obama, and 18% would like to see that of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

POLL: Time 2008 Race

A new Time national survey (story, analysis, results) of 1,064 registered voters (conducted 1/22 and 1/23) finds:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 40%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (21%) and former Sen John Edwards (11%) in a national Democratic primary match-up.
  • Sen. John McCain (at 30%) is slightly ahead of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (26%) in a national Republican primary match-up.
  • Sens. Clinton and McCain are tied at 47% in a general election.


Topics: George Bush , Iraq

You rarely see media pollsters cite correlation coefficients in their reports. On the other hand, you rarely see a correlation as strong as the one ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer cites in his tour de force summary of public attitudes on the State of the Union:

The root of Bush's problems can be summed up in three words: Iraq, Iraq and Iraq. It drives his unpopularity. Among people who oppose the war, a mere 10 percent approve of Bush's job performance; among war supporters, three-quarters approve. The correlation between attitudes on the war and on Bush is a near-perfect .98.

The extraordinary polarizing effect of the Iraq War explains more than Bush's problems. It is also the lens through which Americans currently view much of our national politics. While pollsters have been making that point since the 2004 elections, the dominance of the Iraq War on our politics has obviously intensified. Right now, for better or worse, it's all about Iraq.

Typo corrected

POLL: Pew Global Warming

A new Pew Research Center national survey (analysis, results) finds:

  • 77% of Americans believe there is "solid evidence that the earth is warming," and 47% believe it is due to human activity.
  • 55% believe global warming requires immediate government action.
  • 48% of Democrats rate it as a "top priority" along with 23% of Republicans and 40% of independents.

POLL: Gallup Iraq Analyses

Additional analyses from the recent Gallup national survey (Iraq importance, rationale, video) finds "36% of Americans cite Iraq as the nation's top problem. No other single issue is mentioned by more than 8% of Americans."

Other findings:

  • Of the 36% of Americans who favor the war in Iraq, 65% do so because of "the value of the war for broader considerations outside of Iraq."
  • Of the 61% who oppose the war, 67% feel "the initial reasons for going to war were unsound, unjustified, and based on false pretenses."

POLL: Quinnipiac NJ Primary

A new Quinnipiac University statewide survey among registered voters in New Jersey finds:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 30%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (16%) and former VP Al Gore (11%) for the Democratic nomination.
  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 39%) leads Sen. John MCCain (21%) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (11%) for the Republican nomination.
  • Sen. Barack Obama has a 41% to 9% favorable rating, with 49% who "haven't heard enough to form an opinion."

Vote Without Kerry & the Anybody But Clinton Theory

Topics: 2008 , General , Hillary Clinton , The 2008 Race

With the news today that John Kerry would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, CNN was first to release results of a presidential primary poll without Kerry in the race.

On their recently completed national survey, CNN asked the "467 registered voters who describe themselves as Democrats or as Independents who lean to the Democratic Party" who they would be most likely to support for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. They also asked Democrats for their second choice, which allows the calculation of the vote without Kerry (and without any of the other candidates tested).

With Kerry included, 5% of the Democrats prefer the Massachusetts senator, while Hillary Clinton receives 34%, Barack Obama 18%, John Edwards 15% and Al Gore 10%. With Kerry out, Clinton and Gore each gain two percentage points (receiving 36% and 12% respectively), while John Edwards gains one point (16%).


Some have speculated that while Clinton leads on these national horserace polls, her percentage of the vote (typically in the 30's to low 40s) suggests a larger number of Democrats who prefer anybody-but-Clinton. These results argue otherwise. Notice that Clinton is the second choice of roughly a third of those who initially support Kerry, Gore, Obama and Edwards. So, for the moment, should other candidates drop out, her share of the vote will increase.

The CNN survey also includes some questions that test the "anybody but" theories directly. When asked about Clinton, 75% would like to see her run, 23% would not. The "anybody but" sentiment looks to be more pronounced for Kerry (51% would not like him to run) and Gore (40% would not).


Separately, an analysis posted earlier today by Gallup's Lydia Saad, as well as Frank Newport's daily video commentary, provide results from a similar question asked about Clinton. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 35% say they would definitely support her, 52% say they might consider supporting her, while only 14% say they will definitely not support her.


Gallup also asked a set of follow-up questions of those who are either just considering Clinton or who say they cannot support her, to evaluate theories about "why Clinton may not succeed." Their conclusions:

The paramount [doubts] are her perceived chances of winning in the general election, and her issue positions. Contrary to conventional wisdom about the liability of her support for the Iraq war among liberals, Clinton's issue positions are more often raised as a concern by conservative and moderate Democrats than by liberal Democrats.

My quick and bloggy summary does this analysis little justice. Read it all.

POLL: Zogby Interactive Alternative Fuels

A new Zogby Interactive online survey finds:

  • 55% of Americans "want the government to increase funding for research and development of alternative fuels."
  • 64% believe the oil companies "should be subject to a 'windfall profit tax.'"

POLLS: SurveyUSA Statewide Surveys

Three new SurveyUSA statewide automated surveys of those who watched Bush's State of the Union address finds:

  • 50% of those in Utah think Bush is "in touch" with the average American.
  • 50% of those in California think the State of the Union will "divide Americans further."
  • 58% of those in Washington think Bush "focused on the most important issues to you."

State of the Union Reaction

Topics: George Bush , Instant Reaction Polls

CBS News (story, results) and CNN (story, results) both released "instant reaction" surveys of the audience viewing last night's State of the Union address. As in past years, the speech was "received favorably" by those surveyed, according to CNN. They "generally approve of the proposals he outlined" according to CBS, although "few think he will be able to accomplish the goals he set out."

As in prior years, CBS used the Knowledge Networks Internet panel to interview a random sample of 525 State of the Union viewers who told the pollsters "in recent days that they intended to watch the speech." CNN, working with its new polling partners the Opinion Research Corporation, fielded a telephone study that re-contacted "respondents first interviewed as part of a random national sample on January 19-22, 2007."

Remember that these surveys aim to measure the reaction of those who watched the speech and make no effort to gauge the reaction of the entire adult population. In previous years, speech watchers have generally included a disproportionate number of the President's admirers. In this case, the evidence is mixed. The CNN survey found fewer Republicans and more Democrats in the audience than in previous years.


The CBS survey, on the other hand, found the more typical pattern:

Americans who watched the speech were more likely to approve of the overall job President Bush is doing as president than Americans overall. 43% of speech viewers said they approved of the job President Bush is doing heading into the speech, compared to 28% of all Americans in the latest CBS News Poll.

Both found overall reactions to the speech that were generally in line with Bush's past performance, although the CNN polls showed that "Bush registered his lowest 'very positive' post-State of the Union reaction [41%] of his presidency." The CNN analysis did not examine whether the larger than usual proportion of Democrats might account for that difference.


The CBS News survey included a number of questions asked of their sample both before and after the speech, and found modest improvement among speech viewers in support for sending additional troops to Iraq, for his immigration proposals and in measures of his leadership qualities and trustworthiness. It is worth noting that last year's post-speech survey by CBS showed very similar improvements among speech viewers, but like most State of the Union addresses, ultimately provided little or no "bump" in the Presidents ratings with all adults.

IOWA: Strategic Vision

A new Strategic Vision (R) statewide survey among likely Republican and Democratic Iowa caucus goers finds:

  • Among Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 25%) runs four points ahead of Sen. John McCain (21%). Former Speaker Newt Gingrich receives 13%.
  • Among Democrats, Sen. John Edwards (at 25%) runs ahead of Barack Obama (17%), former Gov. Tom Vilsack (16%), and Sen. Hillary Clinton (15%).
  • 77% of likely Republican caucus goers do not see Bush as "a conservative Republican in the mode of Ronald Reagan."

State of the Union Roundup

We have been posting on Pollster.com more than usual these last few days. Here is a roundup of recent articles by Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin.

  • Who African-American Democrats are currently supporting for president, and a second look.
  • Some tips on how to interpret post-State of the Union surveys.
  • Nine new national surveys change Bush's job approval rating estimate to 34% (two one-hundredths of a point above his all time low).
  • Charles Franklin reveals the impact the State of the Union address has on presidential approval since 1950.
  • An analysis of Hillary Clinton's favorable/unfavorable ratings since 1993.
  • Charles Franklin offers analysis on recent Republican and Democratic primary polling.
  • Analysis of Hillary Clinton's "rating" in the new Washington Post/ABC News survey.
  • Why pollsters have their eyes on "cell phone only" households.

Obama & Clinton Among African-Americans

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

An update on my post yesterday on the surprising strength of Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama - at least for the now -- among African-American Democrats: The CBS News poll released last night, which included an "over-sample" of black voters, produced similar results as those I cited yesterday from the ABC/Washington Post poll.

Although the polls ask different questions, they both show Hillary Clinton leading Obama by nearly two-to-one among African American Democrats:


One critical question to ask before interpreting these results is, how well do African Americans know Barack Obama? The CBS favorable rating question differs from other pollsters (in a good way) in offering an explicitly "unfamiliar" option: "Is your opinion of Barack Obama favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about Barack Obama yet to have an opinion? (emphasis added)"

While the CBS analysis does not break out their favorable ratings by race, it does provide results for all Democratic primary voters. While Obama is far from unknown, many Democrats (40%) still "haven't heard enough" yet to rate him (40%). All but 3% know Clinton well enough to rate her.


As per Mickey Kaus's item today, speculation will no doubt center on whether African Americans harbor doubts about Obama. Similar speculation preceded his 2004 primary contest, when Obama won virtually all of black vote among Illinois Democrats. The more likely explanation for the current standings is a combination of Democrats strong loyalty to the Clintons among African Americans (as noted by Kaus) and relative unfamiliarity with Obama among ordinary voters. Yes, he has been covered extensively and is well known to political junkies. But never underestimate how remote most political coverage is to everyone else.

Having polled for one of Obama's primary opponents in 2004, I can tell you that whatever doubts Illnois African-Americans may have had about Obama prior to the 2004 primary race, they faded fast as he began to run television advertising, move in the polls and receive routine coverage on media outlets (read local TV news) that reached real voters. The same could happen nationally should he score an early victory in Iowa or New Hampshire. Of course, his opponents in the Illinois primary were a far cry from Hilary Clinton in terms of their appeal to black voters. So, as with most of these sorts of interesting questions, we will have to wait for the real votes to be cast to know for certain.

And we have a long, long way to go before that happens.

On Post-SOTU Polls

Topics: Instant Reaction Polls

The President's annual State of the Union address is an obvious focus for media pollsters, as should be obvious by the explosion of national surveys we have been reporting over the last 72 hours or so. If past experience is a guide, CBS News and the Gallup Organization will both conduct and report on instant reaction polls among speech watchers immediately following the event.** Here are some tips on how to interpret those surveys:

First, bounces are rare. Or "mostly nil," as my colleague Charles Franklin put it yesterday. As demonstrated with his usual graphic flair, Professor Franklin shows that "the effect of State of the Union addresses on presidential approval has generally been small to non-existent."

Second, the president's admirers usually make up a disproportionate share of the audience, so the overall numbers the post speech reaction polls can be deceiving. Those numbers often look pretty good, even when the speech changes few minds. For those looking for more detail, I wrote about this phenomenon at length last year, just before and after the State of the Union address.

Third, what we are really interested in is whether the speech changes any minds about the President or his policies. In past years, both CBS and Gallup re-interviewed respondents who participated in national surveys a week ago, allowing comparisons of attitudes the sampled audience members expressed before and after the speech. Unfortunately, these comparisons get a little complicated and so we may not see these data until longer analyses are posted online tomorrow.

Finally, in looking at the question that typically leads the instant analysis coverage - essentially, what is your reaction to the President's speech*** - the results mean little unless compared to those from previous years. Last year, CNN put this helpful comparison front and center in their first on-air discussion of the poll results.

**CNN, USA Today were still partners with Gallup for their polling following last year's State of the Union address, but CNN ended that partnership a few months later and now conducts polls with the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC). Your guess as to what's coming tonight from CNN/ORC and USA Today/Gallup is a good as mine.

***In past years, the lead CBS question has been, "do you approve or disapprove of the proposals in the President's speech." The lead Gallup question is "What was your overall reaction to Bush's speech tonight -- very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, or very negative?" Of course, both organizations asked many more questions -see the CBS and Gallup reports from last year for more details.

POLL: Cook/RT National Survey

A new Cook Political Report/RT Strategies national survey (results, cross tabs) finds:

  • 25% of registered voters believe the U.S. should "send more troops to finish the job" in Iraq.
  • Sen. John McCain is six points ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton (48% to 42%) in a general election match-up.

POLLS: SurveyUSA Louisville, San Antonio Surveys

Two new SurveyUSA automated surveys find:

  • 72% of adults living in Jefferson County, Kentucky approve of the job Mayor Jerry Abramson is doing.
  • 65% of adults living in San Antonio, Texas approve of the job Mayor Phil Hardberger is doing.

POLL: Harris Interactive National Survey

A new Harris Interactive online survey finds:

  • 69% of Americans rate "the current state of the country" as poor.
  • 38% say the war on terrorism is going excellent or pretty good.
  • 36% will watch Bush's State of the Union address.

POLLS: Rasmussen National Surveys

New analysis from the latest Rasmussen Reports automated surveys finds:

POLL: Gallup's State of the Nation

New analysis from the latest Gallup survey finds "just 35% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States today" (analysis, video)

Other findings:

  • 74% are satisfied with "the position of women in the nation."
  • 70% are dissatisfied with the "level of immigration into the country today."
  • 52% are satisfied with "the state of the nation's economy."

POLL: Pew/NPR National Survey

A new Pew Research Center/National Public Radio national survey (analysis, results) finds 75% of Americans say "they like political leaders who are willing to compromise."

Other findings:

  • 39% of Americans approve of the job the Democratic leaders in Congress are doing.
  • 53% of Americans think the failures of the Bush Administration will outweigh its accomplishments.
  • A 32% plurality would "MOST like to vote for" a moderate Democratic candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

Bush Approval: 9 New Polls, Trend at 34.0%

Topics: George Bush


A flood of new polls have come out since late last week. Eight national samples have been reported with field dates since January 16. The results: 35% (Fox), 36% (AP), 31% (Newsweek), 33% (ABC/WP), 35% (NBC/WSJ), 28% (CBS/NYT), 34% (CNN) and 34% (ARG). In addition, a Pew Research Center poll conducted 1/10-15/07 found approval at 33%.

Those polls together produce a trend estimate of 34.0%, two one-hundredths of a point above the low point of the trend estimator for the Bush presidency. The CBS poll is far enough away from the trend to qualify as an outlier, but the trend estimate is not particularly sensitive to that low value, thanks to the abundance of polling. The simple mean of the last eight polls is 33.25% with the CBS value included, and 34.0% without it. The median is 34% either with or without CBS. That CBS reading is a point lower than the previous all time low for any polls of the Bush administration.

The CBS poll will get the most attention but the trend at 34.0% is both more defensible as the estimate of current approval and carries with it a sufficiently damaging assessment of the President. A lame duck this close to his all time low approval rating estimate is unable to do much to alter his circumstances. Faced with a hostile Congress with a growing resistance (not yet rebellion) among his own party's Senators, the State of the Union address is unlikely to create new opportunities for the President. The very consistent polling showing support for the troop increase in Iraq in the 30%-35% range means that the one striking new proposal for Iraq the President has made has failed to win support with the public. For better or worse, presidential approval may have moved out of the realm of rhetoric and into the hands of events. I doubt any presidential speech can affect public approval. The fate of the President's support now rests in the hands of Iraqis and members of Congress.

(Note: I posted a previous version of this that omitted the Pew poll. Thanks to Ken Lee for pointing out the oversight. Without Pew the trend estimate was 34.1%.)

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

POLLS: CBS News National Surveys

Two new CBS News surveys (first story, results; second story, results) find:

  • 28% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling his job, "the lowest approval rating the President has ever received."
  • 66% oppose sending 20.000 more troops to Iraq. However, "if it meant the U.S.' chances for overall success in Iraq would rise," 53% favor sending 20,000 more troops.
  • 41% think "the U.S. can't achieve its goals, regardless of troop levels."
  • A two-way national Democratic primary shows Sen. Hillary Clinton at 45% and Sen. Barack Obama at 28%.

POLL: WSJ/NBC News National Survey

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey (WSJ story, results; NBC story, results) finds:

  • 57% of Americans want to see Congress "take the lead role in setting policy for the country."
  • 52% oppose "Congress cutting funding for the Iraq war as a way to ensure that President Bush does not have sufficient funds to send troops to Iraq."
  • 65% think the U.S. will eventually "have to withdraw and leave Iraq without a stable democratic government."

POLL: AP/AOL News National Survey

A new Associated Press/AOL News survey (story, results, release) finds:

  • 66% of Americans think the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction.
  • 42% think the country is better off under a Democrat controlled Congress.
  • 67% oppose Bush's decision to send additional troops to Iraq, and 63% don't think it will help stabilize situation.

State of the Union Effects: Mostly Nil

Topics: George Bush


The State of the Union address has come to be a major moment in the political year. Despite the increased prominence of the speech, the effect of State of the Union addresses on presidential approval has generally been small to non-existent. The average change from before to after the SotU since 1946 has been -0.3 percentage points. Of the 50 post-war speeches for which we have good data, 30 changed approval of the president by 2 percentage points or less. So it is unlikely that President Bush's address Tuesday night will do much to alter public perceptions in either direction, despite the hype around the speech.

The figure above plots change in approval in Gallup poll readings of presidential approval from before to after the SotU. Ideally we'd have polls taken just before and again just after the address. In recent years that has been fairly common, but in earlier years polling was far less frequent. I've measured the days between the speech and the pre-poll and the post-poll. The figure plots the effects for polls taken within 30 days of the address, within 45 days and within 60 days. Where no poll was available within 60 days I've excluded the speech. Even so, some of these polls are far enough apart that attributing effects to the speech per se is suspect. But given the low levels of change, it seems safe to bet that the overall impression of low effects of the speech would not change with a tighter window of polls around the speech.

President Clinton is the one post-war president who enjoyed the greatest success with the SotU. Five of his eight addresses were accompanied by at least a bit of a positive bounce, though even in his case most of these are short of statistical significance.

Perhaps the most surprising result is that Ronald Reagan, the "great communicator" who introduced the practice of having special guests in attendance to recognize during the speech, did not benefit from his addresses. Only two of his eight addresses showed any positive bounce.

President Bush has likewise not benefited from most of his addresses. Only in 2005 did he get a positive upturn in approval. His other addresses have produced little change in either direction.

So we should dial down any expectations that the State of the Union address is a moment to "salvage a presidency" or "set a new course" or "right the ship of state". The record is clear that those expectations are loftier than the speech has been able to attain.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

POLL: CNN/ORC National Survey

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey (story, results) finds:

  • 63% of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president.
  • 62% would not like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • In a national Republican primary testing thirteen candidates, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 32%) runs six-points ahead of Sen. John McCain (26%). Among twelve Democratic candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 34%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (18%), former Sen. John Edwards (15%) and former Vice-President Al Gore (10%).

POLLS: Rasmussen National Surveys, Zogby Interactive

Topics: Pollsters

Two new Rasmussen Reports automated surveys (analysis, more analysis) find:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 31%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (24%), Sen. John Edwards (12%) and five other Democratic candidates in a national primary.
  • 79% of Americans are willing to vote for an African-American president, and 55% "believe their family, friends, and co-workers are willing to do the same."

And a new Zogby Interactive online survey covers public opinion on the Iraq war and Global Warming.

POLL: ARG Bush Approval

A new American Research Group national survey finds:

  • 34% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling his job.
  • 59% disapprove of his handling of the economy.
  • 53% say the national economy is getting worse, the same findings as Gallup.

ABC News: Clinton & Obama Demographics

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

In blogging last night on the new ABC/Washington Post poll on the 2008 primary match-ups, I overlooked some intriguing results from the in-depth ABC News analysis (also in PDF format with full results). Despite the flurry of attention received by challenger Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton continues to receive support from a majority of African American Democrats.

The ABC News analysis provides a helpful set of cross-tabulations on the Clinton-Obama-Edwards results (from the question that asked Democrats to choose from a field of 12 potential candidates):


Not surprisingly, Clinton does better among Democratic women (49%) than among Democratic men (30%). More intriguing is that Clinton's support is much stronger among those ABC labels as "mainline Democrats" (47%) than among "Democratic leaning independents." Since independents typically participate in caucuses and primaries less often than stronger partisans, these results suggest that Clinton's current standing among actual primary voters may be stronger than national polls suggest, at least for now.

But most intriguing of all are the results among African American Democrats. In the last two ABC News surveys (combined to yield a large enough subgroup for analysis), Clinton led Obama among blacks by a 53% to 27% margin [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]. Her lead over Obama is smaller (35% to 17%) among white Democrats. These early results suggest that Obama has considerable room to grow his support among African Americans nationally, especially if he is successful in the early primaries. On the other hand, absent an early breakthrough by Obama, Clinton may be in a much stronger position among black Democrats than conventional wisdom suggests.

UPDATE (3/2/07): The original ABC News release cited above included an incorrect result for the Clinton-Obama preference among African-Americans. According to an email received on 3/1/2007 from Washington Post polling director Jon Cohen, "the original ABC numbers were incorrect." They have subsequently updated the release to show the correct numbers: Clinton led Obama among African Americans by a 60% to 20% margin, not 53% to 27%.

POLL: Gallup National Survey

A new Gallup Poll telephone survey (analysis, more analysis) finds:

  • 52% of Americans view the current economic conditions in the United States as either excellent or good, while 53% say the economy is getting worse.
  • 63% are dissatisfied with "the way things are going in the United States at this time."

Also from Gallup Poll is a video response to Vice President Dick Cheney's statement on Fox News Sunday that when it comes to Iraq, "the polls change day by day, week by week." See similar commentary by Frank Newport on his USA Today "Gallup Guru" blog.

POLL: Washington Post/ABC News National Survey

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll (Post story, results; ABC 2008 story, results; ABC Bush story, results; Mystery Pollster analysis) finds dissatisfaction over President Bush's Iraq war policies continues to rise and confidence in his leadership continues to decline.

Other key findings:

  • 60% of Americans trust the Democrats in Congress over Bush to deal with the situation in Iraq.
  • 54% of Americans approve of how Nancy Pelosi is handling her job as Speaker of the House.
  • In a national primary contest, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 41%) leads Barack Obama (17%) and ten other Democratic candidates, while former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 34%) leads John McCain (27%) and ten other Republican candidates.

POLL: Newsweek National Survey

The latest Newsweek/Princeton Survey Research Associates International poll released over the weekend (story, results, press release) finds President Bush's job approval "remains at its all-time low."

Other key findings:

  • 70% of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq.
  • 46% of Americans think Democrats should try to block "the additional funding needed to pay for the additional troops Bush wants," while the same percent think Democrats should not try to block it.
  • In three hypothetical presidential match-ups, Sen. John McCain runs a few points behind Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and former Sen. John Edwards, although the margins are not statistically significant.

Hillary Clinton, Favorable/Unfavorable, 1993-2007

Topics: General , Hillary Clinton


Hillary Clinton has served in the Senate for only six years but she has one of the longest polling records in American politics, going back over 13 years to the beginning of her time as First Lady in 1993. No other Presidential contender has this long a track record of public opinion readings. As a result we have an unparalleled record of the ups and downs of public response to Sen. Clinton.

There was considerably more variation in favorable/unfavorable ratings during her time in the West Wing than there has been since Sen. Clinton became an elected official in 2001. The White House years describe the downturn in favorability during first two years, which included the failure of her leadership of the health reform initiative. Sen. Clinton's favorability rebounded during and following the 1996 presidential election. The effect of the Lewinsky scandal was largely favorable to Senator Clinton, if not to President Clinton.

The decision to run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 produced a new downturn in favorable opinion (and upturn in unfavorable views). However, since she took office in 2001, Senator Clinton has enjoyed relatively stable favorable ratings of around 50%, while unfavorable ratings have averaged in the mid-40s. This sharp split is, of course, one of the more widely remarked aspects of Sen. Clinton's public image.

Most recently, there has been a modest upturn in favorable ratings, especially since the fall elections.

The figure above plots and estimates the trend in favorable/unfavorable ratings after removing the poll to poll variation, also known as "house effects". These are effects due to the standard practices of different polling organizations that introduce systematic differences in results. For example, some polls make it easier for respondents to say they "don't know" their feelings towards a political figure, while others produce lower rates of "don't know" response, pushing more survey respondents to pick a positive or negative response. In the plot above, I've used an iterative estimation procedure to remove the "house effects" and norm the results to those of the Gallup organization. This provides better comparability because it adjusts all polls to a common standard. However, it changes the observed poll results to fit the model. Some may wish to see the raw data. They are presented below.

The figure below plots the raw, unadjusted, data. The greater spread in the gray data points is due to the house effects. In particular, you can see the "don't know" response has considerably greater variation in the unadjusted data. The broad outlines of Senator Clinton's favorable and unfavorable ratings are similar to the adjusted ones. The late upturn in approval, however, is largely only visible when house effects have been removed. The raw data suggest less recent movement.


The bottom line of these data is that Senator Clinton remains a public figure who has both a large following of supporters and one who suffers from a substantial antipathy. At the moment, the Senator enjoys more supporters than opponents. Whether than margin is enough to win a national contest or now is, of course, what Democrats (and perhaps the rest of the electorate) will have to decide in the coming months.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

Clinton's In, holds lead. Giuliani still tops McCain

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race


Senator Clinton made it more or less official today. So did Senator Brownback on the GOP side. And ABC/Washington Post conveniently supplied a new national poll for both parties. (Newsweek did too, but stuck to trial heats only, at least in today's release.)

On the Democratic side, Clinton continued to hold a substantial lead, as shown above. After some decline throughout 2006, she may have stabilized or turned slightly up in the last month or two. Sen. Obama has so far not continued a strong upward movement in these national polls, though there are fewer readings for him so the trend is more variable, as the green line makes clear. With a few more polls that line will not jump around as much as the estimate becomes more stable. Former Sen. Edwards has seen some small upward movement recently as well though he trails Obama. And former Vice President Gore has fallen off a good bit recently, as he continues to say he isn't running, probably. The strongest trend in the Democratic field is Sen. Kerry's continuous decline over the past two years. (For the rest of the Democratic field, see below.)


On the Republican side, former Mayor Giuliani continues to lead the field, despite more press reporting that puts Sen. McCain in the front runner spot. McCain's stronger organization and more serious start are no doubt part of the press' view that McCain is the stronger contender. But so far the public hasn't gone along with that. The rest of the field trails considerably, with no Obama-like surge for one of the "rest". At the moment, former House Speaker Gingrich is in third place, with former Massachusetts Gov. Romney in fourth place, with a solid trend but still estimated in single digits. (See below for the rest of the Republican field.)


The rest of the Democratic field can be found in the graph above. I've stopped including every single person asked about in a survey. (Zogby included journalist Bill Moyers in its latest, for example.) I'm including candidates and former candidates who are at least frequently mentioned as potential candidates of some seriousness. Of course if a candidate becomes more prominent (former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, for example) I'll add them to the plot. I keep some who have dropped out because the comparison of where they were when they quit is instructive. None of those in low single digits has yet made a move, unless you count Obama from 2004.


Likewise here with the Republicans I've trimmed the field a bit. (Some pollster thought it made sense to include California Gov. Schwarzenegger, for example, who can't be elected without a constitutional amendment.) Without an Obama-like rise, none of the dark-horses here have yet made a significant move in the polling.

By the way, it isn't home state rooting for former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson that gives him a first name here-- some polls have included former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson in their candidate list, and both are sufficiently short of being household names I thought I should distinguish them. If Fred Thompson stays out of the race, I'll strip my former Governor of his first name.

Clinton "Rating?"

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

From the New York Times' lead story on Hillary Clinton's entry into the presidential race and the "race for the money" between Clinton and Obama:

Several New York and Hollywood donors offered a similar assessment: they liked Mrs. Clinton as a senator, but worried that her rating in a new Washington Post/ABC News Poll released Saturday was at 41 percent, despite having nearly 100 percent name recognition.

"Rating?" That's not the word I'd use to describe the 41% of the Democratic presidential primary vote preference that Clinton received on the Friday-night-special new poll released Saturday (and conducted Jan. 16-19) by the Washington Post and ABC News. That level of support is quite good considering that the question pitted Sen. Clinton against eleven other candidates. Candidates that begin with 41% (or even 35% or 30%) in a field that large are usually on their way to winning.

Also, the field includes several well known candidates. Barack Obama, who already boasts name ID of 75% on the Post/ABC poll among all adults, ran a distant second among Democrats (with 17%). John Edwards (roughly 80% recognition on other surveys) managed only 11%. And the two candiates with name ID about as high as Hillary's, Al Gore and John Kerry, netted just 10% and 8% respectively.

The unnamed fundraisers may have been speculating that -- on the Post/ABC poll at least -- roughly 46% support someone other than Clinton. Perhaps, but so far at least, surveys have not yet yielded evidence of an "anybody-but-Clinton" sentiment among a majority of Democratic primary voters nationally (though Iowa may be a different story). The most recent Gallup poll which had Hillary winning 29% to Obama's 18% in a field of 14 candidates, but leading 53% to 39% in a two-way matchup.

The Post/ABC poll did include a "rating" of Mrs. Clinton: 54% of the national sample of adults rated her favorably, while 44% rated her unfavorably. This result is mixed. Clinton's 54% favorable rating is a point higher than President George W. Bush received from likely voters on the Post/ABC poll a month before he was reelected in 2004. It's the 44% unfavorable rating among all adults -- the highest of any of the prospective candidates in either party -- that might be the bigger worry for those fretting about a Clinton candidacy. However, when it comes to the primary vote question, 41% of the vote is about as good as it gets in a field of twelve candidates.

Much more coming soon...