NYT/CBS poll has its thumbs on the scale ... again

The only consistent quality about the New York Times/CBS polling is its ridiculous sampling on party identification.  Once again, the NYT/CBS poll tries to paint Democrats as unassailably popular and Republicans as losing ground, and once again they have to wildly oversample Democrats to make the argument.  Their latest poll has a sixteen-point gap between the parties:

Americans have grown more optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country in the 11 weeks since President Obama was inaugurated, suggesting that he is enjoying some success in his critical task of rebuilding the nation’s confidence, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

These sometimes turbulent weeks — marked by new initiatives by Mr. Obama, attacks by Republicans and more than a few missteps by the White House — do not appear to have hurt the president. Americans said they approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan; fully two-thirds said they approved of his overall job performance.

By contrast, just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.

It is not unusual for new presidents to enjoy a period of public support. Still, the durability of Mr. Obama’s support contrasts with that of some of his predecessors at the same point in their terms. It is also striking at a time when anxiety has gripped households across the country and Mr. Obama has alternately sought to rally Americans’ spirits and warn against economic collapse as he seeks Congressional support for his programs.

It’s not unusual for the Gray Lady to cook the numbers, either, to make sure their poll shows that support.  This is the breakout in their demographics on page 23:

  • Democrats – 39%
  • Republicans – 23%
  • Independents – 30%

In February, just a month earlier, they had Democrats at 36% and Republicans at 26% — still too low for the GOP, but only a ten-point gap.  Now they want to argue that Democrats have pushed the partisan gap to 16 points in a single month?  Not hardly, says Rasmussen:

In March, the number of Democrats in the nation fell two percentage points while the number of Republicans fell by half-a-point. Democrats continue to have a sizable advantage in terms of partisan identification, but the advantage is smaller than it’s been since December 2007.

Currently, 38.7% of Americans say they are Democrats. That’s down from 40.8% a month ago. It’s also the first time the Democratic total has slipped below the 40% mark since the Republican convention bounce last September. … In March, 33.2% of American adults say they are Republicans. That’s down from 33.6% a month ago. Over the past year, the number of Republicans has ranged from a low of 31.4% in April to a high of 34.4% in September.

In other words, the percentage has never been as low as 23%.  Republicans lost the national election, but if they had dropped to 23% nationwide, Democrats would likely control over 300 seats in Congress and 70 seats in the Senate.  Any poll using a 16-point gap between the parties is worthless.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only news agencies using ridiculous sampling to bolster their contentions of wild popularity for Barack Obama.  Newsweek used a 19-point gap in its latest polling.  CNN thus far has neglected to publish the internals of its poll.  It’s just another round of dishonesty from the media.

Rasmussen has Obama’s polling at a more rational 58%, but then again, they don’t have an investment in Obama, Inc, as the media does.

Update: Jim Geraghty reminds us that in a highly successful electoral cycle, Democrats had an affiliation edge of …. seven percent.