Archive for the ‘polls’ Category

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The margin of error in the margin of error

November 27, 2006

If you aren’t a poll junkie like me, you can skip this one.

Though he leans well to the right, Rasmussen is a very good, very professional pollster, who bothers to publish a new job approval figure for Bush every day. (It’s a tracking poll, which is to say, in order to get his 3.5 percent margin of error, he polls 300 odd people each day, and the day’s published figure is the rolling average of the three most recent days.) He is also commendably transparent in discussing his methodology.

Recently, he explained why particular polls consistently show Bush’s job approval higher or lower than other polls do. It depends on which of three usual ways of posing the question are used. Rasmussen’s way, which requests a “Strongly approve”, “Somewhat approve”, “Somewhat disapprove”, or “Strongly disapprove”, regularly adds several points to the Prez’s numbers. The trick is to ignore the absolute levels, and just follow the ups and downs within any given poll. Those changes will track each other closely, regardless of the form of the question.

My own interpretation, after reading R’s essay, is that respondents, even when they think the Chief is sucking more than a little, tend to want to give him the benefit of the doubt if the poll lets them do that. If their feelings are negative but not strongly so, they’ll pick whatever answer looks to them like the lowest passing grade.

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Pocketbook voting in the pews

October 26, 2006

Much of the thesis of the bestselling What’s the Matter With Kansas?, and much of the conventional wisdom of the left (yes, there is a left-wing CW, just as there’s a very right wing “centrist” CW), is that evangelical Americans are a pack of Wal-Mart shoppers who keep voting for Republicans even though the Republicans keep taking them to the cleaners economically at every turn.

Well, thirty years ago evangelicals came primarily from the lunchbox class. The middle and upper classes tended to be Protestants from “mainstream” denominations. But over the decades, and I don’t know which is the chicken and which is the egg, evangelical churches have grown gradually more upscale. And it is no longer true that a Republican vote is something you get when you drag a glossy photo of a bloody fetus through a trailer park.

Take a gander at this fascinating chart of the voting habits of evangelicals, when broken down by income. The unwashed religious masses are not as stupid, not as prone to voting against their own interests, as the overwashed secular masses have been trained to think they are.

Evangelicals making less than 35 grand a year are more likely to vote blue than red. Who knew?

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Most of us live on the thick end of the wedge

July 20, 2006

Okay, so Dubya doesn’t like stem cell research. But why does he assign it such an over-the-top priority that it becomes the only veto of his two terms?

For the same reason that, although he couldn’t lay aside his vacation to deal with Katrina until three days into the catastrophe, he leapt onto a plane back to Washington at a moment’s notice to sign the Schiavo bill. The culture war is largely bogus. Most Americans are agreed on most issues, and the party that agrees with them has a kick and a bray. (Would that it kicked harder and brayed louder.)

So it’s necessary to pump air into the culture war, which is made up of often artificial, mostly backburner issues, and always in danger of deflating if left to the course of nature. It has top priority for the kleptocrats, because if they don’t catapult the social issues propaganda, the media spotlight might turn onto the real concerns of Americans. Who might become informed.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in an interview at BradBlog:

I made the conclusion many years ago that there’s not a huge values difference between Red State Republicans and Blue State Democrats. The distinction is really informational. 80% of Republicans are just Democrats who don’t know what’s going on

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33% and descending

April 20, 2006

The good news is that the latest job approval number for Bush is 33%. The better news is that the source is Fox. That sinks him 3 points below the previous low water mark established in the wake of Katrina.

If he gets caught on the way down, feel free to give him a tug with your mouse. It’s therapeutic.