Friday, July 31, 2009

So who was dumb enough to swallow THAT one?

Over at TPM, Eric Kleefeld unearths some sleazy statistical wankitude:

The Rasmussen "Presidential Approval Index": Is This Newer Measurement Worth Anything?

Some commentators on the right have been pointing to an interesting number that has been coming from the Rasmussen daily tracking poll, which Rasmussen bills as the "Presidential Approval Index," which Scott Rasmussen only began bringing out in late 2008. The key questions then are: What is this number, and is it a valid measurement of real popularity? In an interview today with TPM, Rasmussen defended the index's validity against some harsh criticism, saying that intensity of opinion -- the true figure measured by his index -- does indeed matter.

The thing to remember is that this is not simply subtracting all the respondents who disapprove of President Obama from the people who approve. Instead, Rasmussen takes the numbers who strongly approve or disapprove, and then performs this math. As of today, that index number is -10, compared to an overall rating of +1 in Rasmussen's daily tracker.

It would seem at first glance that this number can skew negative -- that is, the people who disapprove of a president are inherently more likely to feel strongly about it, compared to a certain level of lukewarm support for a president. For example, the 2004 exit poll put George W. Bush's strong approval at 33%, to strong disapproval of 34%. But his overall approval was 53% to disapproval at 46%, and he was re-elected 51%-48%.

I asked three prominent polling experts about this, and they all lambasted it.

And yet, you just know that there will be wanks who will be all over that disingenuous douchebagitude like stink on cheese:

A Rasmussen poll released today shows Obama's Approval Index sitting at minus 12 percent, his lowest number yet. 40 percent of American voters now strongly disapprove of Obama's performance, compared to just 28 percent who strongly approve.

Canada's Small Dead Animals: When you want to know what the truly stupid and gullible people think.


Ti-Guy said...

I read KKKate's post and I couldn't make head nor tales of it. Her commenters couldn't either, since they all simply responded by shrieking about how much they hate the communist Obama.

I think the Right has to be discounted from public opinion polling altogether. I mean, what value is it to anyone to gauge the opinion of people who are profoundly irrational? And I mean that in all seriousness.

That guy said...

So let me get this straight:

If, hypothetically, Rasmussen polled 100 people about Obama,

and 1 strongly approved,
and 5 strongly disapproved,
and 94 moderately approved,
and 0 moderately disapproved,

then Rasmussen would say that Obama's approval index was -4, even though 95% in this hypothetical poll actually said they approved.

Nice spin, Rasmussen!

Ti-Guy said...

The real problem is that Rasmussen is giving equal weight to both "strong disapproval" and "strong approval." I'd suggest that the two are not manifestations of a shared reality, given what we know generally about those who disapprove of Obama's administration.

It really is just the old "fair and balanced dodge."

Not that I'm a big supporter of Obama's administration. I'm starting to believe it's going to fail badly if it doesn't start getting tougher.

Cameron Campbell said...

And using what amounts to a 4 point Likert scale? Ooooh the nuance!