January 11, 2009 - January 17, 2009


US: National Survey (CBSTimes-1/11-15)

CBS News / New York Times
1/11-15/09; 1,112 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush has handled his job as President over the last eight years?

    22% Approve
    73% Disapprove

Overall, what kind of President do you think George W. Bush has been -- a very good President, a good President, an average President, or a poor President?

    5% Very good
    12% Good
    33% Average
    50% Poor

What kind of President do you think Barack Obama will be -- a very good President, a good President, an average President, or a poor President?

    28% Very good
    40% Good
    20% Average
    4% Poor

(CBS story, Bush results, Obama results; Times story, results)

US: National Survey (Newsweek-1/14-15)

Newsweek / PSRA
1/14-15/09; 1,200 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Satisfaction with US
20% Satisfied, 72% Dissatisfied

How optimistic or pessimistic are you that the new Obama administration will be able to improve the way things are going in this country?

    28% Very optimistic
    38% Somewhat optimistic
    14% Somewhat pessimistic
    13% Very pessimistic

In general, do you think the federal government is doing too much to try to stimulate the economy at a time of recession, not enough, or about the right amount?

    22% Too much
    42% Not enough
    25% Right amount

(story, results)

Really, Really Cold in DC "Outliers"

Topics: Outliers Feature

Ben Smith quotes David Patterson saying he pays no attention to polls on Caroline Kennedy.  

Kathy Frankovic reviews the highs and lows of the Bush's approval rating.

Gary Langer condemns online, opt-in panel surveys.

PPP looks at how high African-American turnout impacted races in North Carolina, teases new polls in Ohio and NC next week.

Mark Mellman advises Democrats to deliver.

David Hill is surprised that Jeb Bushed passed on the Senate race.

David Winston warns Barack Obama that honeymoons don't last.

Michael McDonald reports that 30% of all votes in the presidential election were cast early.

Andrew Gelman says state-by-state vote swings aren't what they used to be.

Brendan Nyhan reports yet more evidence of the experimental revolution.

David Brown assesses the threat posed by cell phones to health surveys (via Agiesta).

SurveyUSA reports 9% of the State of New York planning to "go to Washington for the inauguration."

The Big Rock Candy Mountain of Data

Topics: Andrew Myers , Catalist , Experiments , Microtargeting , NCEC , Project New West , The Analyst Institute

Yesterday, I attended a press briefing on the 2008 elections by four organizations affiliated with the Democratic party. More important, they drew back the curtain a bit on what Catalist CEO Laura Quinn described as the "brand new, big rock candy mountain of data" that these organizations collected during the just concluded campaign.

My colleague Marc Ambinder blogged yesterday on the briefing by these "best supporting actors" of the Democratic campaign last year and how the Democrats "have clearly caught up" to the Republicans in terms of their "back end" work "segregating data, segregating demographic groups and providing statistically valid data to election planner." What is less well understood by those of use who pour over public opinion and vote data is that this technical transformation is creating an enormous pool of data and facilitating some very advanced analysis so far not available to the rest of us.

Both political parties and their consultants have always invested considerable time and money into collecting and analyzing the "metrics" of politics (vote returns, survey data and databases of registered voters). So the data available to insiders for analysis has always been more rich than what is available in the public domain. Less apparent to casual political observers is that the data collection and analysis going on behind the scenes is getting far more advanced than ever.

Yesterday's briefing gave a hint of what they are doing and what they learned last year. I continue after the jump, with the highlights.

Continue reading "The Big Rock Candy Mountain of Data"

NJ: 2009 Governor (Monmouth-1/12-14)

Monmouth University / Gannett New Jersey Poll
1/12-14/09; 413 registered voters, 4.8%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey 2009 Governor

Jon Corzine (D-i) 38%, Chris Christie (R) 36%
Corzine 45%, Steve Lonegan (R) 29%
Corzine 41%, Rick Merkt (R) 27%
Corzine 44%, Brian Levine (R) 27%

Corzine Job Approval
43% Approve, 40% Disapprove

Favorable / Unfavorable
Corzine: 49 / 38
Christie: 42 / 12
Lonegan: 12 / 11
Merkt: 5 / 6
Levine: 7 / 8

Note that Pollster.com now has charts and data tables in our New Jersey Archive testing all candidates for the New Jersey's 2009 Gubernatorial election, as well Gov. Corzine's job approval and favorable ratings.


US: National Survey (USAToday-1/9-11)

USA Today / Gallup
1/9-11/08; 1,031 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Congressional Job Approval:
19% Approve, 76% Disapprove

Barack Obama Transition Job Approval"
83% Approve, 12% Disapprove

Favorable / Unfavorable
George W. Bush: 40 / 59
Barack Obama: 78 / 18

Do you see this week's inauguration more as -- [ROTATED: a celebration by all Americans of democracy in action, (or) a political celebration by the supporters of the candidate who won the presidential election]?

    55% Celebration by all Americans
    42% Celebration by the supporters

In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not?

    56% Yes, a mistake
    43% No, not a mistake

(story, Obama analysis, Bush analysis, full results)

US: National Poll (APGfK-1/9-14)

AP - GfK
1/9-14/08; 1,001 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


State of the Country:
35% Right Direction / 54% Wrong Track

Obama Transition Job Approval:
69% Approve, 12% Disapprove

How well do you think Barack Obama understands the important issues the country will need to focus on during the next four years?

    33% Extremely well
    32% Very well
    21% Somewhat well
    7% Not too well
    5% Not well at all

Do you favor or oppose Congress passing a new economic stimulus package of nearly $800 billion in government spending and tax cuts?

    26% Strongly favor
    29% Somewhat favor
    19% Somewhat oppose
    19% Strongly oppose


US: National Survey (FOX-1/13-14)

FOX News / Opinion Dynamics
1/13-14/09; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Bush Job Approval:
34% Approve, 58% Disapprove

Congressional Job Approval:
23% Approve, 68% Disapprove

Obama Favorable Rating:
76% Favorable, 15% Unfavorable

What do you think should be President-elect Obama's top priority when he takes office?

    68% Economy/jobs
    8% War on Terrorism/security
    4% Health care
    3% Iraq

As of now, do you think Barack Obama is meeting, exceeding or falling below expectations?

    53% Meeting expectations
    14% Exceeding expectations
    11% Falling below expectations

(story, results)

NY: 2010 Senate-B (DailyKOs-1/12-14)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/12-14/08; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New York State 2010 Senate

Tested: Andrew Cuomo (D), Rudy Giuliani (R), Caroline Kennedy (D), and Peter King (R)

Cuomo 48, Giuliani 33
Cuomo 45, King 32
Kennedy 49, Giuliani 32
Kennedy 47, King 31


NY: Clinton's Seat (Marist-1/12-14)

Marist Poll
1/12-14/09; 603 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New York State

If Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State, who do you think Governor Paterson should choose to fill her U.S. Senate seat: New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Long Island Congressman Steve Israel, Hudson Valley Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, Daughter of the Former President Caroline Kennedy, New York City Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, or Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi?

    40% Cuomo (Dec: 25%)
    25% Kennedy (Dec: 25%)
    6% Suozzi
    5% Maloney
    5% Israel
    3% Gillibrand

Favorable / Unfavorable
Cuomo: 60 / 21 (Dec: 64 / 18)
Kennedy: 46 / 30 (Dec: 62 / 9)


The Exit Poll and Prop 8

Ta-Nehisi Coates posts some helpful reporting this week on the exit poll result showing surprisingly large numbers of African Americans supporting California's Proposition 8, the ballot measure approved by voters this past November made same-sex marriage illegal in that state. Coates did some additional digging into a recent report (PDF) by two academics, Patrick Egan and Kenneth Sherrill, released last week by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. This controversy is worth reviewing, even for those less interested in the Prop 8 controversy, because of an important lesson it teachers about the need for all of us to be a bit more skeptical in the way we interpret exit polls, or that matter, any other form of survey.

For those unfamiliar with this particular controversy, it involves the exit poll finding that 70% of African-American voters supported Prop 8, a margin far bigger than among Latinos (53%), whites (49%) or Asians (49%). Since Prop 8 passed by just 4.6 percentage points (slightly less than six hundred thousand votes out of more than 13 million cast), and since the exit poll showed the African American percentage of California's electorate soaring from 6% in 2004 to 10% in 2008, some have argued that African-Americans were responsible for Prop 8's passage. The Associated Press reported within hours of the election that margins measured among California's black and Latino voters, combined with their turning out "in droves" for Obama provided "key support" for the same-sex marriage ban. On November 6, the Los Angeles Times cited the same exit poll numbers in reporting that African Americans "played a crucial role in the outcome."

The Egan/Sherrill report, drawing on multiple pre and post election surveys and analysis of precinct level vote returns, produces considerable evidence to debunk the notion that African Americans were singularly responsible for passage of Prop 8. They that African-American support was "in the range of 57 to 59 percent," and that differences in age, "religiosity" (frequency of church attendance), party identification and political ideology were more significant in driving vote decisions than race or gender. Coates also adds that most of the polling professionals he interviewed with knowledge of California's political demographics were skeptical that African American's made up 10% of the electorate (a DailyKos diarist had come to similar conclusions shortly after the election).

Coates makes two very good points about this particular exit poll result. First, he reminds us that the African-American subgroup for the California exit poll was relatively small -- roughly 224 interviews (assuming that the weighting procedure left the percentage of interviews among black voters unchanged). As such, the random sampling error on the 70% statistic alone would have been roughly +/-6-7% (assuming a 95% confidence level). Another issue, not raised by any of Coates' sources, is that the "clustered" sample used by exit polls is inherently more prone to error when the subgroup of interest is also geographically clustered (as African-Americans, Latinos, Jews and other subgroups tend to be).

Second, Coates identifies the strength of the Egan/Sherrill report, something a professor of mine called "triangulation" (long before Dick Morris gave that term a very different meaning):

Patrick Egan and Ken Sherrill didn't simply do another poll. Well, they did commission DBR to do another poll, but they didn't stop there. They compared DBR's poll to three other polls taken close to and after the election, and the exit poll. Then after that, they used Goodman's regression to analyze census data and precinct returns. Then after that, they used Gary King's EZI software in much the same way. In other words, instead of employing a single method (an exit poll) to analyze the Prop 8 vote, they used several.

Yes, we have good reasons to question the results from exit polls beyond ordinary sampling error. However, the biggest challenge we have in interpreting the final exit poll results (not those leaked just before the polls closed but the official tabulations weighted back to match the actual results) is not about any flaw, real or imagined, in the methodology, but rather that we have only one network exit poll to consider.

Think about it. We know (or should know) that that all surveys can be inherently flukey. The 95% confidence level we use to calculate the margin of error means that one poll in twenty (or one subgroup result in twenty, or one question in twenty on a single survey) will produce a result outside the error margin by chance alone. And we should also know that the margin of error tells us nothing about the potential for other kinds of variation or error (due to low response rates, poor sample coverage or question wording). When we see the occasional "outlier" crop up in the form of a national telephone survey result, we tend to recognize it as such immediately because we have so many other polls available to compare it to. But when it comes to exit polls, we usually have only one, so we are more likely to accept the results in an unquestioning way.

An exit poll is just a survey, with the same potential for error as any other. That is the main lesson of this controversy.

US: National Survey (Pew-1/7-11)

Pew Research Center
1/7-11/09; 1,503 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Bush Job Approval:
24% Approve, 66% Disapprove

How much confidence do you have in Barack Obama to do the right thing when it comes to [INSERT ITEM; ROTATE]--a great deal of confidence, a fair amount of confidence, not too much confidence, or no confidence at all?

Fixing the economy

    33% A great deal
    42% A fair amount
    14% Not too much


    30% A great deal
    39% A fair amount
    17% Not too much

Preventing terrorist attacks

    31% A great deal
    40% A fair amount
    16% Not too much

How much, if anything, have you heard about the economic stimulus package being proposed by Presidentelect Obama that may cost about $800 billion?

    33% A lot
    53% A little
    13% Nothing at all

From what you've read and heard, do you think this proposal is a good idea or a bad idea?

    57% Good idea
    22% Bad idea

Regardless of what you think about the original decision to use military force in Iraq, do you now believe that the United States will definitely succeed, probably succeed, probably fail, or definitely fail in achieving its goals in Iraq?

    15% Definitely succeed
    46% Probably succeed
    22% Probably fail
    7% Definitely fail


US: National Survey (NBCWSJ-1/9-12)

NBC News / Wall Street Journal
1/9-12/09; 1,007 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Bush Job Approval:
27% Approve, 67% Disapprove

Obama Transition Job Approval:
71% Approve, 14% Disapprove

How likely do you think it is that Barack Obama will bring real change in direction to the country--very likely, fairly likely, just somewhat likely, or not that likely?

    35% Very likely to bring real change in direction
    24% Fairly likely to bring real change in direction
    22% Just somewhat likely to bring real change in direction
    17% Not that likely to bring real change in direction

In general, do you think that Barack Obama should focus more of his attention on domestic issues or more of his attention on foreign policy issues?

    66% Domestic issues
    12% Foreign policy issues

When it comes to the economic stimulus plan proposed by the Obama administration, which of these two statements comes closer to your point of view?

    57% The economic stimulus plan is a good idea because it will help make the recession shorter, get people back to work, and provide money for transportation, education, and Medicaid programs.

    36% Statement B: The economic stimulus plan is a bad idea because it will do little to shorten the recession, the jobs are temporary, and it will significantly increase the deficit.

Do you think that the United States has been too one-sided in dealing with Israel and the Palestinians, or do you think that the United States has been even-handed? (IF "TOO ONE-SIDED," ASK:) And do you think that the United States hasfavored Israel over the Palestinians OR favored the Palestinians over Israel?

    37% Too One-Sided
        30% Favored Israel over the Palestinians
        3% Favored the Palestinians over Israel
        4% Not sure
    43% Even-Handed

(NBC story, results; WSJ story, results)

US: Bush Approval (Gallup-1/9-11)

USA Today / Gallup
1/9-11/09; 1,031 adults, 3% margin of error
MOde: Live Telephone Interviews


Bush Job Approval: 34% Approve, 61% Disapprove

"While his approval rating has improved since Election Day, the vast majority of Democrats and even most independents still disapprove of how he is handling the job. Only Republicans generally approve of the job Bush is doing, but that may, in fact, be just fine with a president who says his goal has been to do what he believed is right, not what would make him popular."


US: Israel / Gaza (Ipsos-1/6-12)

Ipsos / McClatchy
1/6-12/09; 1,054 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


As you may know, violence has recently erupted in the Middle East in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Based on what you have seen, read or heard, do you think that the use of force by [RANDOMIZE: Israel/Hamas] has been excessive or is appropriate given the circumstances?


    57% Excessive
    18% Appropriate


    36% Excessive
    44% Appropriate

And regardless of your personal feelings, who do you believe is more to blame for the current conflict?

    44% Hamas
    14% Israel
    9% Both
    4% Neither

How confident are you that the incoming Obama administration can resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians?

    10% Very confident
    32% Somewhat confident
    22% Not too confident
    29% Not at all confident


NY: Clinton's Seat (Quinnipiac-1/8-12)

Quinnipiac University
1/8-12/09; 1,664 registered voters, 2.4% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New York State

As you may know, Senator Hillary Clinton has been nominated to be Secretary of State and Governor Paterson will pick her replacement in the Senate. Who do you think Governor Paterson should pick to replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate - Caroline Kennedy, Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney, Steve Israel or Someone else?
(12/21 results)

    31% Cuomo (29%)
    24% Kennedy (33%)
    6% Maloney (n/a)
    5% Gillibrand (4%)
    2% Israel (n/a)

Is your opinion of Caroline Kennedy favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about her?
(12/21 results)

    39% Favorable (46%)
    29% Unfavorable (17%)


MO: 2010 Senate (PPP-1/10-11)

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/10-11/09; 867 registered voters, 3.3% margin of error
Mode: IVR

Missouri 2010 Senate

Tested: Robin Carnahan (D), Jim Talent (R), Roy Blunt (R), Sarah Steelman (R)

Carnahan 47, Talent 43
Carnahan 45, Blunt 44
Carnahan 47, Steeelman 36


Fact Checking the President

Topics: Frank Newport , George Bush , Pew Global Attitudes Project

Gallup posted an analysis by Frank Newport last night aimed at "fact checking" statements made by President George W. Bush at a press conference yesterday that dealt with public opinion. He cites Gallup data from two questions, on whether Americans perceived the decision to go to war in Iraq as a mistake and how they perceive America's standing around the world. While Bush is "is understandably interested in putting the best possible light on his administration in the final days of his time in office," as Newport puts it,

[I]n terms of contemporary American public opinion on the two issues reviewed in this article -- Iraq and the image of the United States in the world -- it is clear that Americans still view the former as a mistake (despite the success of the surge), and that the significant majority of Americans perceive the latter as having deteriorated during Bush's tenure in office.

In a sense, Newport is "fact checking" Bush's comments broadly, showing that for now, at least, majorities of Americans hold a negative view of the Bush presidency. However, Bush commented more directly on various aspects of public opinion worthy of checking against survey data.

Some of the most memorable and widely quoted comments came in response to a question about whether Bush's foreign policy and particularly the war in Iraq may have "damaged America's moral standing in the world." First, Bush attacked the premise of the question in a passage that Newport also highlighted:

I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged. It may be damaged amongst some of the elite, but people still understand America stands for freedom, that America is a country that provides such great hope.

You go to Africa, you ask Africans about America's generosity and compassion; go to India, and ask about, you know, America's -- their view of America. Go to China and ask. Now, no question parts of Europe have said that we shouldn't have gone to war in Iraq without a mandate, but those are a few countries. Most countries in Europe listened to what 1441 said, which is disclose, disarm or face serious consequences.

Newport's rejoinder focuses on how Americans believe "the United States rates in the eyes of the world." But isn't the real fact to check how citizens of other countries perceive the United States? The Pew Global Attitudes Project released a report last month that finds "the U.S. image abroad is suffering almost everywhere." Bush is right that American popularity has faded most in Western Europe (as the chart reproduced below shows), and that Africans and Indians have a better view of America than citizens of other nations (with 60% to 70% rating the U.S. favorably). Still, the overall trend has been negative:

America won a measure of global sympathy after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the inaugural Pew Global Attitudes survey showed that by spring 2002 favorability ratings for the U.S. had already dropped in many countries since the start of the decade. Surveys conducted after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 found further declines. Positive views of the United States declined in 26 of the 33 countries where the question was posed in both 2002 and 2007.

Respondents to the 2006 survey in 13 of 15 countries found the American presence in Iraq to be an equal or greater danger to stability in the Middle East than the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while 11 judged it a threat to Middle East stability greater than or equal to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Still answering the same question, Bush went on to speak to his domestic popularity:

And in terms of the decisions that I had made to protect the homeland, I wouldn't worry about popularity. What I would worry about is the Constitution of the United States, and putting plans in place that makes it easier to find out what the enemy is thinking, because all these debates will matter not if there's another attack on the homeland. The question won't be, you know, were you critical of this plan or not; the question is going to be, why didn't you do something?

Do you remember what it was like right after September the 11th around here? In press conferences and opinion pieces and in stories -- that sometimes were news stories and sometimes opinion pieces -- people were saying, how come they didn't see it, how come they didn't connect the dots? Do you remember what the environment was like in Washington? I do. When people were hauled up in front of Congress and members of Congress were asking questions about, how come you didn't know this, that, or the other? And then we start putting policy in place -- legal policy in place to connect the dots, and all of a sudden people were saying, how come you're connecting the dots?

In referencing "the environment" in Washington, Bush specifically referenced negative "news stories and sometimes opinion pieces." However, in terms of overall public opinion, the political environment remained highly supportive of the President. Bush's job performance ratings in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks were stratospheric -- hitting 92% in the Washington Post/ABC Poll. While those exceptionally high ratings receded, as the graphic published in today's post shows, Bush's approval rating remained at or above 60% for nearly two years. Seventy-one percent (71%) approved of Bush's performance on the Post/ABC poll a year after 9/11. It was not until early 2005 that more Americans expressed disapproval with Bush than approval. So no matter how harsh the "environment" may have seemed in Washington "right after 9/11," the majority of Americans remained very much behind him for at least two years.

20090113-post job approval.jpg
[Click for full size version]

Two Updates

Two updates:

First, thanks to the folks at Public Opinion Quarterly and Oxford University Press who graciously opened up links to non-subscribers on four articles I cited last week on the use of internal polling by presidents since Kennedy:

All of the links above should now be free and accessible to non-subscribers (the first three files are in PDF format). Please email us if you have any trouble downloading or accessing these files.

Second, having briefly misidentified the work of webcomic xkcd, by artist Randall Munroe in my "Outliers" post on Friday (thanks to reader Jed for the quick clarification), I thought I'd repeat the correction here for regular readers, along with another example from November that hits even closer to home (found by our colleague Charles Franklin):

20090113-xkcd on polling.jpg

US: Israel / Gaza (Pew-1/7-11)

Pew Research Center
1/7-11/09; 1,503 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Over the past few weeks, there has been a significant military conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. All things considered, who do you think is most responsible for the outbreak of the recent violence?

    12% Israel
    41% Hamas
    5% Both sides
    3% Palestine/Palestinians
    1% United States/Bush

What should the United States do in this conflict? Should the United States government publicly support Israel, should it say or do nothing, or should it publicly criticize Israel?

    39% Support
    38% Say or do nothing
    9% Criticize

In terms of resolving this conflict, do you think the United States should be more involved than it is now, less involved than it is now, or is it as involved as it should be?

    17% More involved
    27% Less involved
    48% As involved as it should be

US: Israel / Gaza (Rasmussen-1/9-10)

Rasmussen Reports
1/9-10/08; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR


How closely have you followed news stories about Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip?

    82% Very closely / Somewhat closely
    17% Not very closely / Not at all closely

Who is more to blame for the current situation.....Israel or the Palestinians?

    13% Israel
    56% Palestinians

Should Israel have taken military action against the Palestinians or should it have tried to find a diplomatic solution?

    45% Taken military action
    38% Diplomatic solution

Should Israel agree to a truce now and seek a diplomatic solution to the fighting in Gaza?

    50% Yes
    26% No


Monkey Cage/Forum on the 2008 Elections

Topics: 2008 , Monkey Cage , Political Science

Something I meant to link to earlier: The political scientists over at The Monkey Cage are hosting an online discussion of the 2008 elections this week in collaboration with the electronic journal, The Forum. The discussion kicked off this morning with an introduction by John Sides that listed the articles by an impressive collection of PoliSci notables on "such topics as forecasting models, the nominations battle, the influence of race, the historical context of Obama’s victory, foreign affairs, and realignment."

The contributors at The Monkey Cage promise to post their reactions to the articles in hopes of spurring a week-long conversation with their readers. Should be interesting. They already have their first set of "reaction" posts up from John Sides, Andrew Gelman, Phil Klinkner and Lee Sigelman.

I haven't had a chance to delve into the papers yet, but Klinkner has posted an intriguing preview the article he co-authored with Tom Schaller based on two maps that show an amazing correspondence between counties where John McCain improved on the percentage of the vote won by George W. Bush in 2004 (below, in red) and those where "native southern whites make up 65 percent or more of the population" (see his post).

From Monkey Cage

US: Job Approvals (DailyKos-1/5-8)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/5-8/09; 2,400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Obama: 67 / 29
Pelosi: 39 / 37
Reid: 33 / 41
McConnell: 29 / 46
Boehner: 21 / 47

Right Direction 26, Wrong Track 63

NC: 2010 Senate (DailyKos-1/5-7)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/5-7/09; 600 likely voters, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Carolina 2010 Senate
Richard Burr (R-i) 45, Roy Cooper (D) 43
Burr 46, Richard Moore (D) 40

New Charts!

Topics: Barack Obama , Charts , Favorable Ratings , House Effects , Pollster.com

If you have already glanced at our front page today, you know that we have introduced three new charts using the same Flash software that displayed pre-election polling results last year. All three are based on results from national surveys and are accompanied by tables that include links to the underlying source data:

  • Barack Obama's favorable rating - displays results back as far as January 2007, when most national polling organizations first started asking Americans to rate him.
  • Obama's job approval rating - currently based on questions about how Obama is handling "his presidential transition," this chart will evolve into one that tracks questions about how he handles his "job as president" once pollsters switch to that language after inauguration day.
  • Right direction, wrong track - tracks answers to the question, "do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or are they seriously off on the wrong track," as asked by a dozen or so pollsters since Labor Day, 2008. Later this year, we hope to add more data going back further in time

These three are just the beginning. We are also planning to add many more national measures over the course of the next few months, and of course, for election tracking graphs for 2009 and 2010 races as data becomes available. Our menus and sidebar links should update within the next few days to allow easier navigation to the new charts.   

Again, the charts use the same Flash display software that we used during the fall campaign (static non-Flash graphic versions are displayed for those without a Flash capable browser). Pointing your mouse to any individual data point on the chart will pop-up information about that poll (pollster, survey dates, sample size, etc.). Clicking on that point will connect-the-dots to other results from the same organization. Options accessed through the tools menu allow you to filter out polls by any organization or by the mode of the survey, vary the sensitivity of the trend line, change the axis ranges and embed your chart, customized as you prefer, on your own blog or web page. We produced a video back in September that demonstrates most of these features.

One thing you will notice immediately is that some of these charts show more distinct "house effects" than the horse race results we typically plot. The favorable rating in particular shows big differences, owing to the sometimes very different ways that pollsters ask Americans to rate their general impressions of political leaders. Notice, for example, the way the Rasmussen surveys produce a greater unfavorable percentage for Obama and the way the CBS/New York Times wording produces lower percentages for both the favorable and unfavorable categories. I wrote about some of these differences, particularly as they affect the CBS/New York Times results, in a column back in July, along with a sidebar post that included the text of the favorable rating question asked by each national pollster.


By playing with the "filter" feature in the charts, you can get a sense for the degree to which removing any pollster or combinations of pollsters affect our overall estimate. What you will find is that the loess regression line is mostly resistant to minor "house effects," even major ones. Remove the frequently updating Rasmussen automated tracking, for example, and the overall estimate changes from 71.5%-17.8% (favorable-unfavorable) with all polls included to 72.5%-16.0% without.

MN: State of Senate (DailyKos-1/8-9)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/8-9/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Do you favor or oppose Norm Coleman's legal challenge to Al Franken's victory?

    34% Favor
    47% Oppose

If you could vote again for U.S. Senate would you vote for Al Franken the Democrat Norm Coleman the Republican or Dean Barkley an Independent?

    43% Franken
    40% Coleman
    15% Barkley

Favorable / Unfavorable
Coleman: 41% / 58%
Franken: 49% / 45%


Obama's Support for College Football Playoff is Not Just Right, It is Also Good Politics

"I think a football playoff system makes sense. I've spoken about this quite a bit, and I think if you look at knowledgeable sports fans, they agree with me."

Barack Obama, January 7th, 2009

Set aside for a moment the fact that President-Elect Obama's support for a college football playoff is the right position*, it is also good politics. Obama has brought up his support for a playoff on several occasions, and there are two good reasons for him to continue to do so--his position on the issue is supported by a large majority of college football fans, and college football fans are made up of groups that Obama underperformed with in the presidential election.

In the most recent poll I could find on the topic, Gallup recorded overwhelming support for a playoff among college football fans. In this January 2007 survey, 69% of college football fans supported a playoff that would involve at least four teams while an additional 16% favored a one-game playoff among the top two teams after the bowl games. Thus, only 15% of college football fans want to keep the present BCS system.

As the chart below indicates, support for a college football playoff is nothing new; college football fans have consistently supported such a system at least over the past two decades. In 1994, 72% of college football fans expressed a preference for a playoff system. And despite the fact that the BCS was designed to reduce such clamoring, support for a playoff remains high (and is increasing). Thus, Obama's position on this issue puts him in-step with well over over two-thirds of college football fans; politically, announcing his support for a playoff is as difficult a decision as coming out in favor of ice cream and sunny days.


Not only is Obama's position on the side of the vast majority of college football fans, but these fans also tend to be the kinds of voters that Obama would like to make inroads with in 2012. According to Gallup, College football is America's third most popular sport, with 53% of Americans reporting that they are college football fans. College football fans tend to be married men, and they are more common in the South and Midwest than in other parts of the country. As the chart below indicates, these are precisely the types of groups that Obama under-performed with in the 2008 presidential election.


Of course, aside from Pete Carroll, Mack Brown, and Kyle Whittingham, there aren't very many people out there who are going to be evaluating the Obama presidency based on this issue. But Obama's public statements have sparked a lot of conversation about a playoff on ESPN and other sporting outlets (in addition to the regular news media) and it doesn't hurt to have his name frequently linked to a position that is this popular, particularly among groups who don't exactly make up his base. So it won't be surprising if we keep hearing Obama speaking up for a playoff whenever he has a chance.


*Full Disclosure: I'm a University of Georgia grad, and we would've won a playoff last year (though, public opinion might not back me up on that one).