Monday, February 12, 2007

Bush Approval: Trend at 33.3%, a new low

(UPDATED 2/13/07: The new USAToday/Gallup Poll is in with a 37% approval rating, up from the 32% of the previous poll discussed here. This raises the trend estimate to 33.3%, still a new low point, but not as drastic as the 32.5% prior to the new poll. I've updated the title and added the updated Gallup plot above, but not changed the text below which is unaffected by this new result.)

President Bush's approval ratings have fallen to 32% in the four most recent polls from CBS, AP, Harris and Gallup. After readings of 38% from Fox, 37% from Time and 39% from Democracy Corps (which uses "likely voters" rather than adults) helped boost the President's trend estimate a bit recently, this string of new polls at 32% has caused the estimate to sink well below previous all time lows, to the current 32.5%. This is well below the previous low from May 2006 at 34.0%. (Rumor has it that new polling will be out in a few hours that may improve the President's standing, or not. Check the morning papers.) (NOTE: USAToday/Gallup did come in at 37% based on their 2/9-11/07 poll, raising the trend estimate to 33.3%.)

The figures I'm posting here can also be seen at our comparison of all presidential approval polling here. The figures show how each recent poll has varied around the trend estimate. CBS has been running below trend, so the current reading of 32% is a move UP for CBS, but it only brings that poll to just below my current estimate.

The Associated Press/Ipsos poll has generally tracked the trend pretty well, with six of the last eight polls within a point or so of the trend. Some earlier AP readings were consistently a bit below trend. This should remind us that polls can vary a bit over time in their relationship to the trend line.

Harris has generally run a bit below trend, so the current reading is closer to the trend than is usual. Harris uses a four point, Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor rating system, rather than the more commonly used dichotomous Approve/Disapprove measure. This difference in question wording may play a role in Harris' "house effect." (Search labels for "house effects" for more on that.)

Gallup does more approval polling than anyone and is on average just over a point above the trend. Some recent polling has reflected that, though three of the last seven Gallup readings have been right on trend.

The current downward trend in approval of the President reflects his inability to rally support for his Iraq troop increase decision along with increased criticism from a Democratic congress and more dissent from within his own party.

Given the randomness of polls, we should expect to see some new polling come in up to four or five points above the current trend, so as high as 36% or 37% approval. But if the current "true" approval rating is close to my estimate of 32.5%, we should also see some polling below 30% in the near future. So far there isn't much good news for the White House.