Sometimes it’s tough to suss out bias in polling, I grant you. This is not one of those times. Reuters leads with a story about Barack Obama’s approval rating jumping back up to 50%:
For the first time since early July, more Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing than disapprove, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll that shows his approval rating now at 50 percent.
The poll, taken March 8-11 on the heels of reports that 227,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in February, indicates that Obama’s rating has risen by 2 percentage points during the past month. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of the Democratic president was 48 percent, down from 49 percent in February.
At this point, you’d normally see me analyze the sample type, size, and composition for a critical analysis of whether this particular poll is reliably predictive. Oddly, Reuters doesn’t provide a link for its readers to peruse the data set — but that’s no problem, as it turns out, because Reuters provides its own credibility-killing data at the end of its report:
The Reuters/Ipsos telephone poll of 1,084 adults included 554 respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, 421 as Republicans, and 109 as independents. The total respondents included 937 registered voters.
Er, that would mean that 51.1% of the respondents to the poll were Democrats, and 38.8% were Republicans. Now, I grant you that Republicans have been slightly overrepresented in this sample, as the 2010 exit polls showed 35% of voters were Republicans. However, Democrats also only comprised 35% of the vote that year, not 51.1%, and only 39% the year Obama won election.
So the big news for Obama is that in a poll that consists of 51.1% Democrats, he gets a 50% approval rating? Yeah, that’s a boost, all right. And Reuters needs to go back to polling school.