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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:52 AM
Original message
Something to consider when looking at the polls
Democratic Strategist

There are two significantly different ways to interpret the latest Washington Post poll -- with two quite distinct implications for democratic strategy. Dems should consider both possible perspectives and not just one.

The latest Washington Post poll dramatically titled Faith in Obama Drops as Reform Fears Rise -- has caused a tremendous amount of consternation among Democrats and no small amount of demoralization arguably more than is actually warranted by the results.

<...>

With this in mind, consider the data in the poll:

  • Between February and August, Obamas job approval declined by 11%
  • The view that he was making the right decisions for the countrys future declined by 12%

  • Approval of how Obama is handling health care declined by 12%

  • Support for a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans declined by 12% from June to August.

  • Agreement that reform is necessary to control costs and expand coverage rather than doing more harm than good also declined by 7% June-August
These declines are painful to observe, but the critical point to note is that the drops were from absolutely extraordinary levels of support that the poll measured in February support far higher than Obama received on election day.

  • Obama job approval - 68%
  • Obama making the right decisions 61%,

  • Approval of Obamas handling health care -- 57%

  • Support for a plan to compete with private plans -- 61%

  • Reform is necessary to control costs not more harm than good -- 58%
In evaluating these figures, it is important to ask the question is it really accurate to imagine that the 68% or even 61% approval actually represented real, deeply held and solid support that Obama had a serious chance of holding onto permanently? Or that support for major health care reform had risen to nearly 60% in February, although only 53% of Americans had voted for Obama 12 weeks earlier on election day?

In contrast, isnt it more realistic to visualize these levels of support as representing extremely soft or untested support that was absolutely certain to wither under the intense fire that would be aimed at his plan by a near-hysterical Republican opposition --regardless of anything Obama might have done or said?

The answer has significant implications for both Democratic strategy and Democratic unity. If we assume the level of support was entirely under Obamas control and a decline could have been avoided by such measures as better communication or presenting his own plan rather than relying on congress, then a 12% loss of support represents a serious strategic error that cannot be ignored. If we assume, on the other hand, that at least half, and possibly as much as two-thirds of decline was inevitable no matter what Obama did, then we are talking about only a 4% or 6% decline that might have been prevented with a different strategy.

A Democratic critic of Obama can obviously reverse-engineer an answer to this question and choose the interpretation that validates the degree of criticism he or she wishes to assert for other reasons. But Dems are united enough in their support for Obamas general stance and agenda that all of us can and should temper our concern and criticism to take account of the fact that a substantial part of this decline was in all probability inevitable and should be accepted as the natural price one has to pay when challenging deeply entrenched economic interests and political opponents who are willing to use virtually any tactic and any degree of dishonesty they can possibly employ. It is easy for voters to approve of a policy when it is expressed positively on a survey question; it is much harder to sustain that approval when the policy is subject to the political equivalent of a massive shock and awe bombardment from profoundly ruthless antagonists.

Obama's job approval ratings is at 57% in this poll. Clinton's was at 44% at this point in time. Given that Obama is tackling one of the most difficult issues of all time, reforming the health care system, 57% is actually damn good.

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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. Pres Obama is doing a great job
thanks for pointing that out. ANd, wapo poll? Really?
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yeah,
a 58% approval really sucks. Obama was elected with the support of both 89% of Democrats and liberals. In the heat of a health care debate, trying to characterize support form 82% of Democrats and 78% of liberals as a sign that there is a real concern that might have lasting consequences is a bit of a stretch. It's not hard to figure out.

People want health care reform, they're concerned that the bill may not include a public option. Some self-identified liberals want single-payer. Those have to be factured in.

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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. And, on DU..there's the
faction who uses any negativity against the President to feed their ego mass.
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Parker CA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 11:55 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. It's Sunday, Cha. Expect nothing less than total panic and doom! Last Sunday was like the crazy
ward in here. ;)
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hileeopnyn8d Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. It was indeed.
But where last Sunday was panic and doom, replacing it this Sunday seems to be outright glee over falling poll numbers.

You can almost toggle between right-wing sites & DU these days and forget which one you're reading.

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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Freakin' A and they're out in
bloody mass.
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Jennicut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
5. I think its a mixture of some liberal disappointment and some independents
Edited on Sun Aug-23-09 12:24 PM by Jennicut
not wanting a public option/bigger govt. Essentially its both. And "losing the base" can be rectified and corrected if Obama ends up signing a good health care bill.
Also, he went up another point on Gallup today, it is 54%. Better to trend upward then downward toward the 40's.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Agree, on Gallup too.
Three days ago, they had Obama's approval/disapproval at 51% - 41%. Today it's 54% - 38%.

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CitizenPatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 06:07 PM
Response to Original message
9. i'm deeply suspicous
of any interpretation of the polls being attributed to falling support for Obama re healthcare, since that meme only benefits those who are against any reform at all.

thanks for posting this. the negativity and doom is tiring. Also, WaPo? Hmmm....

I'm waiting to get polled someday. I only have a cell and vongage (might not even have that if they don't drop Beck), and I've never been polled. Call me!
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iceman66 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:04 PM
Response to Original message
10. Another thing to consider,
in most of these same polls, Obama has at least TWICE the approval rating of the Republicans in Congress.

For some reason the media usually neglects to point that out . . .
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. The reason the media neglects to point out the standing of the Republicans is because
The media is Republican.

The meme is that Americans are mad and don't want healthcare reform.
The fact that most of the Americans showing up to protest are Republicans
mad that they lost.

Media can't really articulate that, or it would mess up their story line;
Obama goes down with HealthCare Ship and it is all his fault!
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Adam Kirur Donating Member (73 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 07:33 AM
Response to Original message
12. To Any Republicans Here:
When you have Obama down in a poll conducted on Nov.6, 2012, let me know. Till then, stfu!
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