Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pew, Zogby, NBC/WSJ: Approval Upturn Stalls (?)

New polling by Pew, Zogby and NBC/Wall Street Journal suggest that the upturn in President Bush's approval may have stalled. The three polls reported approval levels of 38%, 38% and 39% respectively. (See PollingReport.Com here for the full details.) Disapproval levels in the three polls were 54, 62 and 55 respectively. In terms of changes from the previous polls by the same organizations, the changes in approval were +2, -1, +1. Previous polls have seen gains in approval of as much as +5% over previous surveys.

Also new here is a second Gallup poll, taken 12/9-11 that found approval at 42 with disapproval at 55. That was a statistically insignificant drop from 43-52 in Gallup's 12/5-8 poll. While that modest decline isn't convincing by itself, coupled with the three more negative polls, there is reason to wonder if the significant rise we've seen since Veterans day has now reached a plateau, at least for the moment.

In the graph, the green lowess fit is the same fit as previous graphs have shown. By that measure the upturn appears to continue. The blue lowess fit reduces the smoothing slightly (from 1/2 to 1/3 for the lowess geeks out there.) With a little less smoothing, the flattening is apparent in the blue line, that is absent from the green line. Local fits of this sort, especially at the endpoints as we are considering, can be quite sensitive to the amount of smoothing, and there is no simple test for the "right" amount of smoothing. My "eyeballing" of the data leads me to see a flattening of the upward trend when these new polls are added, which is why I fit the blue lowess fit. You may take your pick, or wait for more data.

In either case approval continues to be significantly higher than the low-points before Veterans Day, but there is at least a reasonable doubt that it is continuing up at the rate it has for the past 3-4 weeks.