Friday, February 8, 2013

C'mon, Folks, Polling Averages. Remember?

Ron Fournier on one reason Barack Obama may refocus his State of the Union message:
Though Obama's team would dismiss its significance, Democratic allies took notice of Quinnipiac University's new poll that showed Obama's approval rating dropping since his election, from a 53 percent approval rating in December to 46 percent.
C'mon. Did we all learn nothing from the last election cycle? Polling averages, folks, not single polls. Heading over to Pollster, guess what? Obama's approval rating, including that Q poll, is rising, not falling. In fact, there were a total of polls with surveys ending February 4: the approval ratings on those were 46, 46, 52, and 54. And the three polls after that Q poll? Approval readings of 49, 52, 52. Conclusion: the Q poll was a bit of an outlier, or at least it was at the low range of the average.

(Even then, 46% approval is misleading; the two 46% polls both had high undecideds, so Quinnipiac had Obama with a net 1% positive approval score, and YouGov had him dead even. That's worse than Gallup and the others, but not as much as looking at just the approval would suggest).

Polling averages are not just for election season. Be wary -- very wary, on issue polling -- of single polls on any subject, at any time. I don't know whether the fault here is with Fournier or his sources, but everyone needs to learn this very, very, simple lesson.


  1. Did you all see the Quinnipiac poll results on guns? It showed that on these issues people agreed with President Obama. But when asked who they agreed with, people said the NRA. So much for polls.

  2. Fournier has been after Obama since 2008, at least. He's a conservative hack, or maybe a Clinton hack - I was never sure which. I wouldn't trust his musings on any subject and I would consider anything he says about Obama particularly suspect.


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