A new Fox News poll taken 5/16-18/06 finds approval of President Bush at 35%, with disapproval at 56%. That matches the new CBS News poll and is a point below the 36% reading by CNN. The three polls together provide some evidence that approval may have moved up following the president's Monday night address, though the data remain short of statistical significance. With all three new polls in the data my trend estimate stands at 33.01%, nearly a full point above my estimate as of 5/16 polling which was 32.05%. These revised estimates do NOT mean that approval has turned up, but they do mean that all the polls, when taken together, are painting a less bleak picture for the White House. It takes 6-10 polls for my model to detect a clear upturn in approval, so watch that trend estimate-- if it continues to move up over the next several polls, we'll see a bend start to form in the downward trend line.
The Fox poll is actually a 3 percentage point decline from Fox's previous poll on 5/2-3/06. But that poll was unusually high. I wrote about it here pointing out that Fox appeared to have been too low in the previous poll, then too high at 38%. I concluded
So the rebound from 33% was to be expected. The 38% seems too high now, so I'll bet on another decline to about 34% in the next Fox poll (which should appear in a couple of weeks.)The actual new Fox poll at 35% is a point higher than the 34% I predicted based on the prevailing trend of two weeks ago but does represent the predicted return in the direction of my estimated approval level. In this case, a decline in Fox's poll was actually still good news for Bush-- it was better than expected.
The confluence of three polls this week all registering 3-4 points above my prior estimate (now I mean the estimate BEFORE these polls were added, 32.05%) may indicate some real improvement in the president's standing. At the least they suggest the rate of decline may be a bit less this week than it has been, and at most they may signal a positive turn. See my post on CBS and CNN for more discussion about how political debate over immigration is an opportunity for the White House, but with the threat that Republican members of Congress may stiffle potential gains with their vocal criticism of the president's position on immigration.
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