Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bush approval at 36% in Zogby poll

The Zogby poll, taken 6/15-20/06, finds approval of President Bush at 36% with disapproval at 64%. This puts Zogby close to the estimated trend (blue line) which stands at 36.6%.

The previous Zogby poll, taken 6/2-6, just before the killing of Zarqawi, found 31% approval. Zogby interprets this five point gain as a "bounce" for Bush due to Zarqawi and the Bush trip to Iraq:
After what some have called the “best week of the President’s second term” in office, George W. Bush’s job approval numbers have jumped significantly to 36%, as a nation hungry for good news out of Iraq was finally served a morsel, a new Zogby International poll shows.
I beg to differ with this interpretation. The 6/2-6 Zogby poll was well below the trend, and indeed moved down from a previous Zogby poll while the trend was clearly already moving up in early June. Zogby therefore compares an abnormally low approval rating of 31% (4.5 points below the then current trend estimate of 35.5% approval.) The new estimate of 36% is now only slightly below the current trend estimate of 36.6%. Rather than consider this a bounce for Bush, I would say that the new poll represents a return to the trend after an unusually low reading (in the sense of being well below the then-current trend.) To attribute this gain in approval to events seems to ignore the discrepancy of the 6/2-6 poll compared to other polling.

There has been considerable interest in both the media and the blog world about a possible Zarqawi/trip to Iraq bounce. I think virtually all analyses have missed the mark. So far there is very little evidence that the killing of Zarqawi or the trip produced a bounce-- a jump in approval due to the event AND above the current trend. Despite this, reporting of most polls have compared previous with current polls and attributed all of the change to the success in killing Zarqawi. None of the reporting I've seen has recognized that there is an upward trend in approval, beginning May 15, and that improvement in approval is at least as likely to be due to that trend as to the Zarqawi event. At the same time, Democratic leaning blogs have attacked the reported bounce while seemingly ignoring or denying the evident upturn in approval that is now just over a month old. They are probably right that there was not a large bounce after June 7th, but they are wrong to deny that approval is significantly up. By my trend estimate, approval is now up 2.6% since it's low point on May 12 of 33.98%.

It is a mistake by the MSM to confound a politically crucial change in trend with a single event-based "bounce". It is also a mistake by Democratic bloggers to focus on denying the bounce while failing to admit that approval is now moving up. The former owe news consumers smarter analysis and the latter need to deal with things as they are and not as they might wish them to be. Strategy based on denial is not likely to be the most effective.

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