I’ve often noted that polls are snapshots in time and a single poll is less important than the trending. I also have often noted how partisans will tout a poll that supports their preference and then blast the methodology of a poll that doesn’t. Here’s a poll that will spark some debate.
Several recent polls show President Barack Obama’s numbers going south. But this one puts his approval rating at 50%:
For the first time since early July, more Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing than disapprove, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll that shows his approval rating now at 50 percent.
The poll, taken March 8-11 on the heels of reports that 227,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in February, indicates that Obama’s rating has risen by 2 percentage points during the past month. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of the Democratic president was 48 percent, down from 49 percent in February.
Some other polls have shown a recent dip in Obama’s approval rating, and linked that to rising gasoline prices.
But for most Americans, other economic trends during the past month have been relatively positive. Obama appears to be benefiting from that, and perhaps from a bitter Republican presidential campaign that at times has focused on divisive social issues such as abortion.
“The economy is improving,” said Ipsos pollster Cliff Young. “Not by leaps and bounds but people feel that things are getting better.” The Reuters/Ipsos poll also found that Americans’ confidence in the direction of the country is ticking upward. In the poll, 37 percent of those surveyed said the United States is headed in the right direction, up from 32 percent in February.
The poll fits in with many other polls when it comes to GOPers: it shows Romney out in front.
The poll indicates that more Republicans nationwide continue to favor former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney over his three rivals for the party’s presidential nomination.
However, Romney still is not close to having the support of a majority of Republicans in the race to determine who will face Obama in the November 6 election.
Romney received the support of 37 percent of Republicans, compared with 32 percent for Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator.
Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich was backed by 12 percent of Republicans, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul was supported by 11 percent.
Look for some pro-Obama partisans to grab onto this poll and ignore or dispute some of the others ones. And look for Obama’s foes to claim this poll is useless, its methodology is bad (something they would not say if the poll showed Obama’s support dropping).
The reality? Polls need to be looked at over a period of time and it’s the trending that is important. And, this poll aside, the trending has not been good for Barack Obama in recent days. This suggests that once the Republicans get their internal battle over the nomination over, no matter what some Republicans say they will unite around the nominee and start to defend him and work to get Obama out of the White House. Helped along by a heaping helping of PAC money. The bottom line: 2012 will not be like 2008 but could be a nail biter.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.