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The Many Flavors of the Favorable Rating

Topics: National Journal

As I was laboring over last week's column, I received a one-line e-mail from a respected journalist: "Can you please rail against the NYT for their 'neutral' fav/unfav offering?"

Is that enough of a tease?  The rest of my NationalJournal.com column, on the differences in the way pollsters ask favorable rating questions, is now online.  I hope you will click through and read it all. 

The column also includes a prettier version of the following table, which shows the big differences in the favorable rating results for Barack Obama and John McCain on rcent national surveys.  The "All Other" column simply totals up all of the responses other than "favorable" or "unfavorable." 

08-07-24 Favorable ratings compared.xls.pngThe column did not allow room for the full text of each favorable rating, but I have included those here, after the jump.



Text was gathered from the Polling Report and supplemented with introductory text where available in pollster releases:

ABC News/Washington Post: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of (NAME)? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

CBS/New York Times: Is your opinion of Barack Obama favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about Barack Obama yet to have an opinion?

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation:  We'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Gallup:  Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news.  As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you
have never heard of them.  How about...Barack Obama

LA Times/Bloomberg: Now I'm going to ask you how you feel about several former and current elected officials. Please tell me whether you feel negative or positive toward them. If you don't have an opinion, you can tell me that, too. First... 
Do you have a positive or negative feeling about Barack Obama? (IF POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE) Is it very or only somewhat (positive/negative)?

NBC/Wall Street Journal:  Now I'm going to read you the names of several public figures, and I'd like you to rate your feelings toward each one as either very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative. If you don't know the name, please just say so.

Newsweek/PSRA:  We'd like your overall opinion of some people in politics.  If I mention someone you Have never heard of before this  interview, just tell me.  What about... Barack Obama?  Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him (her)?

Pew Research Center:  Now I'd like your views on some people. As I read some names, please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each person.  (First, INSERT NAME) would you say your overall opinion of... [INSERT ITEM; RANDOMIZE] is very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly UNfavorable, or very unfavorable?  How about (NEXT NAME)?  [IF NECESSARY: would you say your overall opinion of [NAME] is veryfavorable, mostly favorable, mostly UNfavorable, or very unfavorable?

Qunnipiac: Is your opinion of -- Barack Obama favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?

 

Comments
jsh1120:

Mark,

Thanks for bringing this information together. I've been curious about the variation in this overall measure. I'm inclined to think that in addition to the varying response categories, this may be a measure that's particularly susceptible to contextual effects both in terms of whether the poll implies a comparison between candidates and where the items are placed in an interview.

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