Friday, June 09, 2006

Bush approval still up: AP +2%, Harris +4%

President Bush's approval rating continues to show gains in two new polls. The Harris poll, taken 6/2-5/06 finds a four point increase to 33% approval, with 67% disapproval. The AP/Ipsos poll taken 6/5-7/06 finds a two point gain to 35% approval and 63% disapproval.

After adding these new results, my approval trend estimate (the blue line) stands at 35.2% approval. The more sensitive (but less conservative) red line estimate now registers 35.4% approval. These two estimates are now converging as the blue-line estimator has enough polls to work with.

It is useful to also take an "apples to apples" look at the polling trends. The figure below shows the tracks of each of the four most recent polls. All four show upturns since early May, ranging from just one point in Cook to five points in Gallup. Individually these shifts fall short of statistical significance (a fact noted in the AP story here.) But as I've explained in a previous post here, poll to poll changes will often fall short of statistical significance. By using all the polls for my estimated trend, we get a better picture of what is happening to approval than we do if we myopically focus on poll-to-poll changes and their significance.

I've been stressing the change in direction of presidential approval. That seems to me to be the interesting development here. Democrats may prefer to focus on the still very large disapproval numbers, and the fact that even improvement to 35.2% approval is still historically poor approval levels. But both sides should keep their eye on the November prize. It isn't where President Bush stands today that matters for the fall elections so much as where his current trajectory seems likely to put him by November. A month ago it looks like he would be in the 20s. If the last 21 days of trend is continued, he could be in the 40s. In short, the range of potential approval levels I plotted a while back (here) is still about the range of potential approval. The current change just makes it a lot more interesting to watch what happens!

And of course, we'll now shift our attention to the impact the death of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have on presidential approval. The capture of Saddam Hussein produced about a 5 point rally in approval, though it was rather short lived. I'm confident we'll see some new polls by Monday or Tuesday that will help us start to estimate whether this Iraq success has similar effects on approval. Stay tuned.


Blogger continued to have problems and wouldn't let me post this yesterday afternoon. On the other hand, the Harris numbers came in in the meantime, so this post contains two new polls.

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