Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fox Steady, Hotline Out of Line

Fox/Opinion Dynamics add to the impression that President Bush's approval ratings rise has slowed. The Fox poll taken 12/13-14 finds approval 42%, disapproval 51%. The previous Fox poll taken 11/29-30 had it 42-48. Both are better than the 36-53 on 11/8-9, just before the White House launched its aggressive response to critics. The latest numbers however show no gain in approval and a +3% increase in disapproval.

The Diageo/Hotline poll by Financial Dynamics 12/12-13 shows a much higher approval rating than any other poll since February, with 50% approval and 47% disapproval. That's a stunning result, as the graph makes clear. The Diageo/Hotline result is far removed from other results of the post-Veterans Day polling. The previous Diageo/Hotline poll had approval-disapproval at 39%-59%, which was in line with other results at that time, 11/11-15. As of 3:20 pm, 12/15, the full topline results were not available on the poll's website here so it was not possible to look for a possible reason (partisanship distribution, for example?) for the discrepancy.

Even including the Diageo/Hotline results in the estimation above, the blue lowess line continues to suggest a flattening of the rise in approval. The rising green line smooths the data more and continues to show a rising approval. Until convinced by other polling, I'll think of the Diageo/Hotline result as an anomaly and stick with the conclusion that approval has at least temporarily flattened out.

(See the previous post here on Pew, Zogby and NBC/WSJ for a full explanation of the lowess fits above and my reason for concluding that the rise in approval has slowed.)

UPDATE: 3:40 EST. Diageo/Hotline now has the topline numbers here. Their party identification numbers are 35% Rep, 37% Dem, 20% Ind. The party numbers include leaners. That's in line with other estimates of party. It isn't clear if Diageo/Hotline weights by party id, which would explain this, or if their sample just happens to be this close to what the exit polls would show. In any case, the high Bush approval is not due to a poll heavily weighted towards Republicans.

The one difference in the Diageo/Hotline and most other polls is that Diageo/Hotline puts the Presidential job approval question after a battery of favourable/unfavorable ratings of political figures. It isn't obvious why that should prime higher job approval ratings, however. In fact, several of the rated figures (DeLay, Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff) might be expected to hurt the Presidents rating, if anything.

The one other interesting anomaly is the approval rating within party id category. This poll finds approval of 86%, 44% and 17% for Reps, Inds and Dems. Those are quite a bit higher than other polls have found recently, but are up across the board in this sample. Gallup's most recent results were 81%, 38% and 10% approval by Reps, Inds, and Dems.

So, either it is a fluke or a harbinger. What it isn't, is in line with other current polling. We'll see.