CBS finds that Barack Obama’s job approval numbers are “mixed,” but that has more to do with the usual CBS sampling follies than it does with any actual rebound in Obama’s numbers.  Obama gets a 45/47 in their latest survey of registered voters, but does worse on the issues, especially the issue that concerns Americans most as the midterm elections approach:

Americans have mixed feelings about President Obama’s job performance, a new CBS News/ New York Times pollshows, with 45 percent saying they approve and 47 percent saying they disapprove. However, disapproval does not mean disappointment — most Americans say that Mr. Obama’s performance in office is what they expected.

Yet on the issue of the economy, which Americans perceive as the top problem facing the country, the president receives wider criticism. Mr. Obama’s approval rating on the economy stands at just 41 percent. Another 51 percent of Americans disapprove.

Six in 10 Americans think Mr. Obama has not made progress fixing the economy, and a majority (53 percent) thinks he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs.

They also have this puzzling statistic:

Although Americans are unhappy with the direction of the country and the economy, 63 percent say Mr. Obama’s performance in office has been about what they expected, according to the poll, conducted Sept. 10-14.

Let’s review the sample.  The poll uses both general population and registered voter screening.  Among the general population,the CBS sample found a partisan split of 8.5 points favoring Democrats — which they promptly fixed by making the gap larger, to almost 10 p0ints.  Among registered voters, they found a gap of 7.9 points, which they addressed by subtracting enough Democrats and independents to get it to a 6.7 point gap:


Bear in mind that Barack Obama won the national popular vote by seven points in 2008, at the peak of Democratic Party popularity. The most recent Gallup survey shows Democrats with a three-point national registration advantage, and that’s only when leaners are included. These sample splits are absurd as anything CBS has produced thus far in the Obama era.

Not that it helps.  Republicans still win the generic Congressional ballot question, 40/38, even with the handicap CBS gives the Democrats.  Among independents, that gap opens to nine points for Republicans, 35/26, with a third of independents still unsure of how they’ll vote.

On Obama himself, the numbers look even worse.  As noted by CBS, the overall numbers on the economy are 41/51.  However, 60% say he has made no progress in fixing the economy, not exactly a vote of confidence in Democratic leadership seven weeks prior to the midterms.  Only 38% believes he has a clear plan for job creation, while 53% say he doesn’t.  Only 30% think the $787 billion stimulus plan improved the economy, with 20% thinking it made things worse and 46% saying it had no impact at all.  ObamaCare still has double-digit opposition, 49/37.

One last question: why is CBS not using a likely-voter screen, especially on the generic Congressional ballot?  Maybe they can’t tweak a sample that specific.