A Glance at the Polls

Rich Galen
By Rich Galen | February 10, 2014 | 4:43 AM EST

The Gallup organization polls every day asking respondents a number of questions including how they think the President -- in this case Barack Obama -- is doing.

This is known as Presidential Job Performance.

Gallup does this on a three-day rolling basis.


I know you understand this, but for the other person who doesn't, here's a quick explanation:

A three-day roll starts with, say, 100 interviews on Monday night. That is followed by 100 more interviews (with different people) on Tuesday; then 100 more on Wednesday night.

The three days' results are reported on Thursday morning.

On Thursday night another 100 interviews are done but the results on Friday morning include only Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday results; Monday's respondents having rolled off. On Saturday morning the results are from Wed-Thurs-Fri and so on.

That is, in essence, a three-day rolling sample.


The news over the weekend was that Gallup's three-day rolling poll on President Obama's job approval sank below 40%. It was 39 percent approve, 52 disapprove.

Assuming those nine percent who didn't know or had no opinion would have had an opinion if it were positive, over 61 percent of adults in the U.S. do not approve of Barack Obama's job performance.

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, that result is from polling conducted Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (February 5-7) last week.

That was about the time that the public debate was raging over the Congressional Budget Office's analysis that 2.5 million people would stop working over the next decade because they would receive more benefits (especially from Obamacare) from not working, than from holding a low-paying (or a low-esteem) job.

The last time that Gallup had the President's job approval numbers above water was back in July 2013 when he was at 48-46. The highest his numbers have been in the recent past were right after his re-election in 2012 when, in December, he was sailing at 57-37.

The question you are asking is: Where was George W. during this period in his second term. The answer is, just about where President Obama is: W. had a 42 percent approval rating, but it was headed down to 37 percent by election day 2006.

In that election -- President Bush's second mid-term -- Democrats picked up six seats in the U.S. Senate and 31 seats in the House giving them majorities in both chambers. Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House until the election of 2010, but by then she controlled enough votes to get Obamacare adopted by a margin of seven votes - 219-212.

The second mid-term tide was running so heavily in the election of 2006 that, according to CBS' election analyst Professor David R. Jones, "No Republican captured a seat previously held by a Democrat."

Prof. Jones also pointed out that the exit polls showed Democrats won the support of independents 57-39. This is important, because according to the Huffington Post poll tracker, as of Friday its average of all polls that break out independent support, President Obama is lagging 60% -34% - even worse than the GOP did in 2006.

Gallup is not the only organization regularly polling Presidential job approval. The Real Clear Politics average has the President at 42.8 - 52.3 approve/disapprove, slightly above the Gallup number.

Why wasn't this a bigger deal in the press?

1. The press covering the Olympics was busy whining about their hotel rooms (and allegedly being spied upon in their showers.

2. Many of the Northeastern press organizations were busy looking for orange cones in NJ Governor Chris Christie's garage.

3. Nearly all of the national press was busy making sure the halo they have carefully constructed for Secretary Hillary Clinton is being kept shined up and straight on her head.

But, don't think for one second that Democrat Members of the House, the Senate and Governors are just glancing at these polling numbers. They are watching them (and their own private polls) very closely, indeed.

The lack of pushback from Democrat organizations tells me their private numbers don't look any better than the public polls when it comes to running for re-election with Barack Obama still in the White House.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Gallup Job Approval poll, to the Huffington Post page and to the exit polls from the 2006 mid-terms. Also a Mulfoto that made me laugh even as I was coding it for the SDR.