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Re: Pardon?

Topics: George Bush

An update to my post yesterday on speculation about how a pardon of Scooter Libby might affect the Bush job rating: The amazingly responsive analysts at the Gallup organization sent this update, which answers the question I posed above by and shows how reactions to the notion of a Libby pardon back in March mesh with the Bush job rating at that time.

Among Republicans - March survey:

  • 31% Approve Bush job / Favor pardon
  • 35% Approve Bush job / Oppose pardon
  • 9% Approve Bush job / DK-Ref on pardon
  • 3% Not Approve Bush job / Favor pardon
  • 16% Not Approve Bush job / Oppose pardon
  • 5% Not Approve Bush job / DK-Ref on pardon
  • 100% Total

As of March, only 3% of Republicans favored a Bush Libby pardon but did not approve of the job George Bush was doing as President. Meanwhile, roughly five twelve times as many (35% 16%) opposed a pardon but approved of Bush.

Looking at it another way, roughly nine out of ten of those who favored a pardon in March already approved of Bush's performance.

Of course, two big caveats are in order. First, as John Dickerson pointed out via email, a lot has changed in the Libby case since March. He has been sentenced to a term that especially angers his supporters and asked to serve his time immediately. We also now have three presidential candidates (Thompson, Romney and Giuliani) making the case for a pardon. So we might see different reactions among Republicans the next time pollsters ask the pardon question.

Second, commenter Chris G has a point when he argues that figuring out "the influence of a big media event like the pardon" requires "so much more than voters simply hearing a single sentence that's analogous with what polling interviewers [ask]." Using survey data to measure current attitudes or reactions is one thing. Using it to try to predict the future attitude is inherently speculative.

PS: Good catch twc -- sorry for the oversight

 

Comments
twc:

"As of March, only 3% of Republicans favored a Bush pardon but did not approve of the job George Bush was doing as President. Meanwhile, roughly five times as many (16%) opposed a pardon but approved of Bush."

I think that last statement is incorrect, according to the results posted. That is the percentage who oppose a pardon and DISapprove of Bush's job performance. The percentage that oppose a pardon but approve of Bush (which would be the relevant number for whom to rent airport buses) is 35%: roughly 12 times as many as those who disapprove of Bush but favor a pardon.

____________________

Chris G:

Mark, I'm not sure you got my point entirely-- any analysis that tries to estimate the future could be labeled speculative. i'm saying that it doesn't make sense to use polling data as the sole basis for such an analysis. although the number of conservatives who vehemently support a pardon may be relatively low, these may also be the most influential conservatives when it comes to change in opinion among the base as a whole. in the event of a pardon this influence in turn could *potentially* have benefits for Bush later on--maybe conservative voters who currently disapprove of Bush are the most apt to change their minds.

so it may make sense to look back at the time-varying characteristics of polling data on similar issues in the past to see how opinions have changed, partly as a function of what language was out there in MSM. Mark Rich would certainly be a good start, perhaps Harriet Miers.

____________________

Chris G:

Mark, I'm not sure you got my point entirely-- any analysis that tries to estimate the future could be labeled speculative. i'm saying that it doesn't make sense to use polling data as the sole basis for such an analysis. although the number of conservatives who vehemently support a pardon may be relatively low, these may also be the most influential conservatives when it comes to change in opinion among the base as a whole. in the event of a pardon this influence in turn could *potentially* have benefits for Bush later on--maybe conservative voters who currently disapprove of Bush are the most apt to change their minds.

so it may make sense to look back at the time-varying characteristics of polling data on similar issues in the past to see how opinions have changed, partly as a function of what language was out there in MSM. Mark Rich would certainly be a good start, perhaps Harriet Miers.

____________________



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