Polls for Dummies

SYNOPSIS: Krugman explains some of the RNC's lying with statistics when it claims that Bush is still wildly popular

OK, guys. This really isn't hard.  Dr. Pollkatz maintains a  summary index  of all major approval polls, normalized to reflect their consistent differences (Fox is always higher - gee, what a surprise). He also shows the  raw data .

The Pollkatz index bumped up after the midterm election, then fell sharply - 8 points down by the day before the SOTU. That sounds like a plunge to me. Of course, it's down 28 points from its peak, so it's not just a post-election story.

So how does the RNC manage to make it sound as if nothing has happened? They take just one poll - the one that shows the least change. And they choose dates carefully, comparing a number before the midterm bump to one after the slight SOTU bump.

Anyway, this is all entirely off point. What should be the point is that by any measure, Bush is not the super-popular leader of image. He is, to take a random comparison, less popular now than Clinton was at the time of his impeachment.

POSTSCRIPT: The new Fox poll was just posted. One poll doesn't mean too much - see above. But for what it's worth, it shows a 9 point drop from the post-midterm peak, and puts Bush's ratings just about where they were in July 2001.

Originally published on the Official Paul Krugman Site, 1.31.03