Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hotline poll has Bush Approval at 37%

The Diageo/Hotline poll taken 5/18-21/06 finds approval of President Bush at 37% with 61% disapproval. This is a decline of 8 percentage points in approval since the Hotline last interviewed a national registered voter sample 2/16-19/06. As the figure above makes clear, Hotline polls have run roughly parallel to the estimated trend in approval, but with a substantial positive house effect in the last four polls. Through 2005 this difference was less pronounced. Based on all 2005 and 2006 polls except this last, the house effect for approval in Hotline polls is +1.90 percentage points. (See the post on house effects here.) Adjusting for that, we would estimate that approval is about 35.1%, based on the Hotline result.

This is above my current trend estimate based on all polls (including this latest Hotline) which stands at 33.3%. The last four polls have all come in above the estimated trend, even after house effects are removed. Though short of statistical significance, these continue to suggest that President Bush may have gained some improvement in his approval ratings following his immigration address on May 15. Past experience suggests that it requires 6-12 polls for my model to clearly signal an upturn in approval. So far the evidence is favoring a rise of 3-4% in these last four polls, compared to the previous trend. Only a sustained improvement in more polling will clarify that.

Hotline Editor Chuck Todd points out that there has been substantial decline in approval among Republicans, from 83% in February to 70% in May. Approval among Independents is also down from 41% to 33%. This resembles rather well the trends we've seen in other polls during the spring, though the exact levels among partisan categories tend to vary quite a bit across polls. Because of the large gap between Hotline Polls (they did Dem and Rep presidential preference polls in the interim) it is impossible to guage short term trends, so these results simply reflect the fact that it has been a hard spring for the White House. We'll see if that is turning around now or not with the addition of new polling next week.

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