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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Value of Daily Tracking

It’s not unusual for politicians to react to polls. I’ve certainly seen it many times over the years, particularly when elected representatives or candidates are confronted with poll results they don’t like.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked Tuesday about Gallup Daily poll results showing a drop in President Obama’s job approval rating. According to news reports, Gibbs responded with some critical remarks and unusual analogies.

I’m certain Gibbs didn’t intend to impugn the value of presidential job approval polls in general. It appears he was reacting more to the fact that the president’s approval numbers are not stable, but, in fact, in a period of some change. More specifically, Gibbs was reacting to our report Monday highlighting the fact that, while there was a short-term positive uptick in Obama’s job approval ratings after his Afghanistan speech last week, his ratings through the weekend fell back.

But this type of movement is the nature of the beast. Gibbs said that if Gallup were his EKG, he would visit his doctor. Well, I think the doctor might ask him what’s going on in his life that would cause his EKG to be fluctuating so much. There is, in fact, a lot going on at the moment -- the healthcare bill, the jobs summit, the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and Afghanistan.

We live in a representative democracy. Our politicians are accountable to the people. Certainly the accountability that matters most is on Election Day. But keeping tabs on the people’s views of their elected representatives between elections is vitally important – and something in which the people of the country are demonstrably interested. We at Gallup are fortunate to have the capability to interview random samples of Americans on a daily basis. This helps us closely monitor the ways in which presidential actions are being received by the national constituency.

Of course, it's not just Gallup that finds this important. I’m sure the White House was just as interested as we were in how the president’s major speech at West Point last week played to the American public. Our tracking helped provide the answer.

Obama is set to travel to Oslo, Norway, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The White House is probably just as interested as we are in how the American public is going to react to this event. Our tracking will give us the answer -- both in the short-term and in the long-term. (And I’m sure the Obama campaign in 2008 paid a great deal of attention to their own tracking polls measuring how his candidacy was doing as the events of the campaign rocketed across the news each day.)

The foundation of the tracking poll is state-of-the-art, sound scientific sampling methodology, as is the same with all of our Gallup polling. Gallup reports presidential job approval using a three-day rolling average. Users are, of course, free to make whatever use they would like of the daily tracking information. The same pertains to their use of daily stock market reports, daily Nielsen ratings of television shows, or any other frequent measure.

For those interested in trends over a longer period than the three-day average reported daily, Gallup aggregates job approval on a weekly basis and reports weekly demographic breakouts.


Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 3:56 PM  

Well said!

Adam Feiler said...
December 8, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

Your post is absurd. You assume that Americans react in a 24-hour news cycle and change their assessments drastically from day to day of the President's job approval. They do not, and no other polling firm ever shows as drastic movement as your polls show. The idea that in your December 2-4th poll, the President net approval was +11 and in your December 4-6th poll it was +1, would mean that about 5% of the American public decided on Wednesday that they liked the President by on Friday, they weren't so sure anymore. Considering there was no major news late last week to harm the President's approval, that is a ridiculous change. While this is all accounted for by margin of error, your post here reinforces the exaggerated media narrative that the President got a huge bump out of his Afghanistan speech, which he may not have, and he was in deathly political straits this weekend. That kind of irresponsible analysis of your polling has contributed to the knee-jerk, ADHD media atmosphere we live in and it's a disservice to the Gallup organization's legacy.

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 4:08 PM  

Stay tuned for next week, when Gibbs blames Obama's temperature on the thermometer.

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 4:12 PM  

Any time polling professionals or news organization report something the Obama administration doesn't like, they get smeared. A few times makes sense but it's been an endless rant.

This White House is so unprofessional and so clearly unqualified in what they are tasked with.

JammieWearingFool said...
December 8, 2009 at 4:47 PM  

Gibbs is a putrid, whiny hack. I commend you for the restraint you demonstrate here.

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

Of course he meant to impugn the poll. He's had a history of belittling those who dare to show something other than a rosy side to President Obama. He constantly and consistently puts down those who dare to not bask in his boss' glowing light.

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 6:06 PM  

Not even a US Senator for half a term, wins the so-called Nobel Peace Prize mere months after becoming President. For what? What in life has the man actually done? Where are his accomplishments outside of winning popularity contests?

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 6:15 PM  

"....Gibbs said that if Gallup were his EKG, he would visit his doctor. Well, I think the doctor might ask him what’s going on in his life that would cause his EKG to be fluctuating so much. There is, in fact, a lot going on at the moment -- the healthcare bill, the jobs summit, the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and Afghanistan..." Touché!!

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 6:44 PM  

What kind of a response is this?

Why can't you call a spade a spade. The man is mad at the results and now he claims that Gallup is no good just as FOX news is not a news organization.

This president has major deficit problems and Gibbs is so stupid that he would have not lasted one day (1/2 day) under my leadership.

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2009 at 7:49 PM  

The weekly average shows considerable stability. In fact it has varied within a fairly narrow range of 49-53 percent approval for quite a few weeks. That's a more meaningful measure than the daily average.

Sandra Kay said...
December 8, 2009 at 8:00 PM  


How much did you have to "massage" the party Id to get obama back to 50%?

Every single time he hits 50%, the next day you bump him back up. Same when he hit 47%.

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2009 at 7:00 AM  

Gibbs was foolish for his rant just because Gallup has a pulse on how many of us are responding to the decisions President Obama is making.
I voted for Obama. Even thou I was a Hillary supporter I hoped Obama would bring 'Change' I could believe in...
Like GWB after 9/11, Obama has squandered all the goodwill & opportunity to unite us for a greater goal(s).
He saved the banks & big business, while Americans are going hungry & lose employment!!!
He is sending 30,000 more troops to 'war', a war that's a folly! Afghan Karzai wants help for 15-20 YEARS....
Heath care reform has been fractured...DOA.
Frank keep up the stellar work, we appreciate it. clo

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2009 at 1:41 PM  

It is Gibb's job to try to make his boss look good. You can make all the unfactual claims you want to Gibbs but it won't help. Up or down keep the gallup polls going.They are just one avenue of freedon of speech. Just one of the freedoms it seems this administration would like to take away.

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2009 at 3:55 PM  

I'm sure Gallup did the polls in an objective scientific way. As for Gibbs I don't know what he was complaining about. If he wants he should start complaining to the American people. They are the ones who gave him the low marks. Frankly I'm surprised they are as high as they are. In three more years they will be sub 20% because he is incapable of improving or reforming anything in a meaningful way.

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2009 at 6:24 PM  

Funny how Gibbs sent out emails last February when Gallup had the stimulus package being favorable to Americans. Gibbs praises Gallup when his guy is doing well, and disses Gallup when he's not doing well.

How many think Gallup will have Obama doing real well in the future? lol Nope. Not a chance. I dream of the day when our country doesn't have two weasels in the whitehouse in Gibbs and Obama. Of course; there are more than two in the WH.

You wrote this in a very nice and polite way. Kudos to you.

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

Point me in a direction to Mr. Gates to cast a no-confidence vote for President Obama. The Administration has deviated so far off course from his campaign promises to an already stressed nation; I'm sure in the mid-term elections the country will respond in kind. As for President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It can only be said his winning was a
'No Brainer'..

Paul Marsolek said...
December 9, 2009 at 11:25 PM  

I am proud of Gallup and the respond Dr. Newport offered to the comments by the Whitehouse. Our president, at best, has a seven year shelf life. Dr. Newport, and those that follow him, will be reporting the will of the people for years to come. Dr. Newport - keep the long view, and continue to be a gentlemen - even when it is time to tell the Emperor he has no clothes.

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