Thursday, June 15, 2006

Approval continues up: NBC/WSJ 37%, Fox 40%

New polling by Fox and NBC/Wall Street Journal support a continued rise in approval of President Bush. The NBC/WSJ poll, taken 6/9-12/06 found approval at 37% and disapproval at 58%. That was a gain of 1 percentage point over the NBC/WSJ poll of 4/21-24. The Fox News poll taken 6/13-14/06 placed approval at 40%, disapproval at 52%. That was a 5 point gain in apprvoal compared to Fox's last poll taken 5/16-18.

My local regression estimate of approval (the blue line) now stands at 36.1%. While Fox and Gallup have registered recent gains of 7 percentage points from their lows, the estimated trend is up only about 2 points since mid-May.

The NBC/WSJ poll has been surprisingly unresponsive to approval dynamics since November 2005. After tracking the estimated trend quite well throughout 2005, the NBC/WSJ polls have failed to move in tandem with the movements since November. So far as I know there haven't been changes in the NBC/WSJ methodology, so perhaps this is just noise in a handfull of polls, but the shift is nonetheless striking. In a period that the estimated trend has moved over 8 points, NBC/WSJ has covered only 3 points.

The current jump of 5 points in Fox is the opposite issue. That move far outruns the estimated trend's movement since May 15. (Gallup has covered a similar range, up 7 points since it's low in early May.) I suppose it is inevitable that some will question Fox's high reading of approval. But check the estimated house effects in this post. Fox normally runs only 0.72 percentage points above the average approval poll. This reading is substantially higher than that, almost 4 points above the estimated trend. I expect that's some sampling error. Four polls ago, Fox had a result 3 points below the trend (33% on 4/18-19/06). Both that result and today's 4 points above trend are consistent with the amount of random variation we see in the polls, so there is simply no case to be made that this Fox poll is "unrealistically" high on Bush approval. At the same time, I think my trend's estimate of 36.1% is a more reasonable estimate of approval than Fox's 40. The recent polls have ranged from Zogby's 31% to CBS' 33, AP's 35, NBC/WSJ's 37, Gallup's 38 and now Fox's 40.

What remains unknown is whether the killing of Zarqawi will produce any "bounce" in approval beyond that due to the upward trend started on May 15. A number of stories have attibuted the change in recent polls to the Zarqawi death. But that (stupidly) ignores that change was already underway. What is required is an estimate of BOTH the upward trend starting May 15 AND a possible bounce occurring on June 8th. So far there really aren't enough polls to reliably estimate the Zarqawi bounce, and with relatively few polls between May 15 and June 8 it may not be possible to get a good estimate of the two effects. But we'll see when ... "more polls come in."

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