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President Obama’s Rock Solid Base And Why Pollsters Look Confused!

I’ve seen this story in several places and felt the need to add my two-cents — maybe three. The Christian Science Monitor is the original source for the story that is titled “Gallup’s chief puzzled by Obama’s poll numbers”.

I’ll get to why I think the President has consistent poll numbers in the face of a slowly growing economy and many other issues that plague our country in the wake of 8 years of mismanagement. But first, I want to point out some disturbing trends in the media and amongst polling firms.

The mere fact that Frank Newton of Gallup would be puzzled by any poll number raises the question, why? Does he really think that the political world, or the world in general, operates in a pattern where it really doesn’t matter who the individual players are or what they say or do, it should just follow a predetermined pattern. I guess it’s the problem with statisticians in general. They use numbers to help order their worlds and depersonalize things so it is easier for them to understand. When you actually deal with real people and personalities, it isn’t quite as easy for them to understand.

Here is a passage from the CSM piece that illustrates this…

Looking at history, particularly Clinton and Reagan, it is somewhat surprising that [Obama] has never yet fallen into the 30 percent range in our approval rating,” Newport said. “And yet both Reagan and Clinton, in their first terms when the economy was perceived as bad … both fell into the 30s.”

I guess I need to point out to Frank that President Obama is not Clinton or Reagan and it is currently 2011, not the 80’s or 90’s.

The tendency to force everything that happens today into a model from the past is a common phenomenon. I’m my younger days of self discovery, I read a “philosopher” named J. Krishnamurti who wrote extensively on this idea. One of the things he said was that all thought is based on the past, it is formed from our memories and the mind filters everything through what it has known before and therefore it isn’t new. He encouraged people to live in the moment, and learn to listen with a still mind. I highly recommend his readings and lectures, if you Google J. Krishnamurti, you will find a lot of information about him and there are many Youtube clips of him speaking.

Back to the numbers game in politics! One of the worst offenders is Chuck Todd of NBC/MSNBC. The man lives for his numbers and especially the “horse-race” numbers. It may be that he perceives them as being impartial. We often here the phrase, numbers don’t lie. When I hear that phrase, my instinct is to say, “yeah, they are fucking numbers, how the fuck can they lie”. What that phrase accomplishes when uttered is to present the numbers as being impartial, as if the interpretation or spin of them doesn’t matter, because they don’t lie. It’s very similar to the phrase “the fact of the matter is” which is then followed by person’s interpretation of the “fact”.

Click Read More for the rest of the post!

Here is some more statistical wisdom from Frank Newport at Gallup…

Newport noted, “Satisfaction with the way things are going is … correlated with economic perceptions fairly strongly.” At the same time, Obama “is overperforming. Based on where every president has been, his approval rating now is higher than we would predict it to be based on” how satisfied American adults say they are.

What these numbers say to me is that the efforts by the Republicans, the media and even many on the left to damage the President haven’t worked. It has to be driving people like Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald nuts. I’m sure they are banging their heads against the wall and wondering why people aren’t buying their bullshit. What is wrong with these people.

In Newport’s attempt to explain the numbers, he raises another interesting  idea…(in bold)

Pollsters are not sure why Obama has fared better than expected in the polls. Newport offered two possibilities. “One theory has to do with personal characteristics of the man,” the Gallup executive said. “The other has to do with the nature of politics today.” Under that theory, Obama has “kind of a rock-hard coalition that are never going to abandon him in approval ratings, and therefore that is why his approval ratings will be propped up no matter what happens.

Hey Joan Walsh and Jane Hamsher, that is THE BASE!

I do take offense with Frank’s “propped up” comment, which is a subtle dismissal of those numbers, because if they are just propped up, you know….props can fall down.

Getting beyond the numbers game, Smartypants did an excellent job of explaining why it may be that President Obama has strong numbers considering all the shit that the media has been feeding us. Go Smartypants…

Perhaps some of us in the pragmatic progressive blogosphere could help you with that Frank. Could it be that a lot of people recognize that we have an over-performing President and an under-performing Congress? Could it be that some folks see who is “the only adult in the room?” Could it be because the opposition party that finally gained control of the House hasn’t passed one jobs bill since getting elected – while the President goes all over the country doing everything he can alone on that front? Could it be that the “party of no” strategy combined with a willingness to take the entire global economy hostage in order to protect tax cuts for the wealthy does not fare very well up against a President who is willing to compromise with a balanced approach? Could it be that Americans are aware that this President walked into the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression and has worked tirelessly to do everything he can to reverse that – while the opposition has only one goal: make him a one-termer.

In other words, could it be that the American public still has an ounce of sense left?

President Obama’s popularity and steadfast support isn’t puzzling to any of us who actually pay attention and aren’t mired in some irrational hatred or mistrust of our first black president. And I say that because whether people want to believe it or not, a lot of that mistrust and hatred stems directly from racism.

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

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July 21, 2011 - Posted by | Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama | , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. Do you think we could get Chuck Todd to read this? Would any one of the villagers be willing to read this. How could they be so clueless? When the President says (repeatedly) “i don’t listen to what the pundits say” that should be a hint guys.. We don’t either.

    Comment by maggy519 | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. Well, Frank, guilty as charged. I’m “propping” the prez up, “no matter what happens.” Yes, we “proppers” are the base! I can’t imagine turning against the prez. He works hard every day with a bunch of obstructionists.

    Comment by cat48 | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  3. This is exactly how I feel about what’s going on and when I see bashing from the left and right I wonder what the ulterior motive is and they don’t see his efforts to fix the mess he walked into which has been made more difficult with the opposition he faces. I’ve make it my personal goal to defend and help get facts out to the public and to do what I can to help bring about the change we so urgently need and to support this President as I feel he’s the best person we’ve elected in a long time. Just think what he could do if people would set their prejudice and ignorance aside and work for a common goal for the country. Yeah I know it’s like rainbows and unicorns! Great article and love the digs at Hampsher, Greenwald and others who are fake progressives and should become Republicans with their attitudes since they too only want personal progress.

    Comment by Agnes D Coffey | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  4. I loved this article and it echoed many of the truths that I presently feel with the reasons the poll numbers aren’t reflecting what the media is trying to spin. Not to mention I have to wonder how accurate the polls are when it concerns the republican edge. Notice how they always do polling that says the generic republican has a said edge against Obama but when you put him up against any actual republican that Obama has the edge against them? Even Romney most polls show Obama with an edge against him yet some of these polls are trying to spin it in a different way.

    BTW numbers don’t lie but the people that create the numbers can and do all the time. They can fix anything by using biased data or math that simply doesn’t reflect the facts but rather the spin that they want to put in it. As a matter of fact I’ve noticed that polls are trying to say the republicans in general have the edge on a congressional level but the only problem with these polls is that it seems like the dems have been beating the republicans time and time again lately. It makes you wonder if the republicans are actually in more trouble than this so called polls are suggesting.

    Comment by Jeff | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  5. Jeez, I wish we could get this up on Huff Post’s site. This one is a home run, Jim.

    Comment by staci | July 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Staci. I got a little philosophical, which I try not to do too much. :) Don’t get me started.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  6. I continually get frustrated that Democrats have such a hard time getting their message and THE TRUTH out there when their party supposedly is full of communicators from Hollywood to Times Square. You’d think that ALL of our debt was created under President Obama who inherited most of the mess from George W. Bush and “spend happy” Republicans.

    Buried in my Houston Chronicle today on page A-13 is a breakdown on debt first incurred under George W. Bush to the present. How did the debt grow from $5.8 trillion in 2001 to its current $14.3 trillion? Major outlays…..

    Under President G.W.Bush:

    2001 and 2003 tax cuts under President Bush. $1.6 trillion

    Wars in Iraq and Afghanista­­n $1.3 trillion

    2003 creation of Medicare’s unfunded prescripti­­on drug benefit $300 billion

    2008 financial industry bailout $700 billion ($500 billion now repaid with interest under Obama)

    Auto industry (Big Three) bailout 2008, 42.4 billion loan

    Under President Barack Obama:

    Economic stimulus package under President Obama $800 billion

    2010 tax cuts, a compromise by President Obama and Republican­­s that extended jobless benefits and cut payroll taxes
    $400 billion

    Auto industry bailout $80 billion to Chrysler and GMC (all but $14 billion now repaid)

    Debt increases attributed to both administrations:

    Hundreds of billions less in tax revenue than expected since the Great
    Recession began in December 2007 under George W. Bush.

    Other spending increases in domestic, farm and defense programs, adding
    lesser amounts.

    Debt service interest costs $1.4 trillion

    Comment by grantinhouston | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  7. I live just a few miles from NASA and Obama has taken much bad mouthing around here for supposedly cutting NASA programs. However, today’s paper reveals that it is REPUBLICANS in the House of Representatives doing the cutting. They want NASA allotted $16.8 billion, which is $1.6 below last year’s $18.4 billion. Obama has requested $18.7 billion. NASA is located in Tom DeLay’s old district (now Rep. Pete Olson) and borders Rep. Ron Paul’s district where many employees live, also.

    Comment by grantinhouston | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  8. As a retired math/science teacher it was troubling that my juniors and seniors came to my classes unable to read most graphs, especially line graphs. So here is a bar-type graph that every voter should read.

    Yet the LIE repeated by our MSM 24/7 is that we should no longer blame Bush as this is now the Obama economy….

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/92569/bush-obama-deficit-tax-cut-stimulus-health

    Comment by grantinhouston | July 26, 2011 | Reply


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