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May 26, 2005
CBS Poll: Behind The Numbers

"Bush Out Of Touch," reads the CBS headline from their poll released today, and indeed that is what one of the poll's results show. However, CBS doesn't tell its readers that Bush's overall approval ratings actually increased as well:

Four months into his second term, President Bush is increasingly viewed as being out of touch with the American people, according to a CBS News poll.

Six in ten Americans say the president does not share their priorities, while just 34 percent say he does the lowest numbers for Mr. Bush since the eve of his first inauguration. If there's any solace for Mr. Bush, it's that even fewer people, just 20 percent, say Congress shares their priorities.

Overall, slightly more Americans (48 percent) disapprove of the job the president is doing than approve (46 percent).

If readers click the link to the actual results, however, they will find that CBS found a much more ambiguous trend than their reporting suggests. In his overall job performance, Bush gained two points over the past month, from 44% to 46%. Americans gave the President a five-point boost in his campaign against terror with 58% now approving of his performance in that area. He also gained four points for his economic stewardship, although that only amounted to an anemic 38%, the same as his approval rating for Iraq, which only declined a single percentage point from last month.

There is plenty of bad news in the CBS poll, especially on Social Security, which has seriously eroded over the past couple of months. However, this poll certainly does not support the unbroken chain of gloom contained in the main CBS report of the survey. And even the true results have to be reviewed in light of the odd weighting given the sample taken by CBS (see page 5):

Total Respondents: 1150


Total Republicans.......390............367

Total Democrats.........394............418

Total Independents......366............365

The new weighted numbers increase Democrats from 34.3% of the sample to 36.3%, while dropping Republicans from 33.9% to 31.9%, creating a gap that went from 0.4% to 4.4% in favor of Democrats. The CBS weighting puts Republicans on the same footing as independents, an unusual and unrealistic model for any polling sample.

It's not the first time that CBS skewed its polling samples to get the desired results, as CQ readers already know. It's interesting to note that even when they can't skew it badly enough to substantiate its editorial positions, CBS will simply mischaracterize its own poll in its reporting.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 26, 2005 12:39 PM

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