Right Jumps on Outlier Zogby Poll

Right-wing bloggers and media pundits are wallowing joyfully like pigs in mud over the new Zogby poll (which hasn’t even been released yet), that purports to show Barack Obama’s approval rating plummeting from the low 60’s (63% on today’s Gallup Daily) to a dead heat.

Well, they should have fun while they can. Nate Silver has the reality-based commentary:

Let me qualify this a bit: Zogby International conducts two types of polls. One type are conventional telephone polls. Zogby’s telephone polls, while prone to somewhat wild fluctuations and subject to their share of erratic results (such as predicting a 13-point win for Barack Obama in the California primary; Obama lost by 9 points), are actually not terrible, and did fairly well on November 4th.

Zogby, however, also conducts Internet-based polls. These polls are conducted among users who volunteer to participate in them, first by signing up at the Zogby website (you can do so yourself here) and then by responding to an e-mail solicitation. These Internet polls, to the extent they rely on voluntary participation, violate the most basic precept of survey research, which is that of the random sample. And as you might infer, they obtain absolutely terrible results.

Because I’m writing this post ahead of time, I’m not 100% certain that the particular poll in question is an Internet poll. Zogby, which is probably aware of the poor reputation of its Internet polls, has begun to go to some length to conceal their origin, usually reserving notification that the poll was conducted online for the fine print. However, I’m about 99.8% certain that this is an Internet poll, as all of the polling that Zogby has recently conducted on Presidential approval have been of the Internet variety.

Joe Dwinell at the Boston Herald declares that this supposed 13-point drop (from today’s Gallup) is due to “two prime-time gaffes – one comparing his bowling score to a Special Olympian and another awkwardly laughing about the economy, which prompted Steve Kroft of ’60 Minutes’ to ask ‘are you punch-drunk?’ “

Another Joe — one who obviously knows more about standard journalistic practice than does Joe Dwinell — has this to say:

60 Minutes’ Steve Croft asked that question because it’s part of his journalistic training to ask any questions that he thinks or he thinks the public might ask. In the way 21st century politics now works, it was immediately seized upon by Obama’s critics with same kind of predictability now seen in Obama’s defenders. What it illustrated is that a new kind of Presidential Attitude PC: he must look grave (but then the critics would say he was doom and gloom…or depressed by the job…or couldn’t handle it…or panicking the public…or out of his league). The bowling score comment was a dumb gaffe, while way the Croft “punch drunk” quote was played by some in the new and old media was partisan point making or Presidential Attitude PC advocating.

More straight talk:

As we saw during the 2008 election, John Zogby’s polls are ridiculous. They’re ridiculous when they’ve shown Democrats in the lead, and ridiculous when they’ve shown Republicans in the lead. A Zogby poll is like Jim Cramer telling you to buy Bear Stearns but even less accurate. So its no wonder conservative blogs like Powerline (are they still looking for the Democrat who wrote the Schiavo memo?) and conservative newspapers like the Boston Herald are flogging a Zogby poll that’s supposedly going to show Obama at 50%. It isn’t that I don’t think the President’s numbers will fluctuate over time (though I’d go out on a limb and say he’s never going to hit the sub-25% that was the last 3 years of his predecessor), but Zogby just isn’t credible.

Via Whiskey Fire, Phoenix Woman points to CBS News’ odd interpretation of its own recent poll on Obama’s job approval rating:

… Bear in mind that in this poll, Obama’s overall approval rating went up slightly (two points, fro 62% to 64%), and his approval rating on the economy went up significantly (five points, from 56% to 61%). But that’s not what CBS’ headline focused on:

Poll: Mixed Reviews For Obama On AIG

One has to go to an online source, the Huffington Post, to find an honest take on CBS’s own poll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook