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Friday, June 25, 2010

No Evidence Yet That Oil Spill Hurt Obama's Job Approval Rating

Various commentators and polling observers are still discussing the question of whether or not the BP oil spill has affected President Obama's overall job approval ratings. (See here and here, and for two seemingly contradictory reports here and here, and further back an informed look here).

One need not look much further than our Gallup Daily tracking to go a long way towards answering the question. Day after day, seven days a week (with the occasional holiday) we track the president's job approval rating. This allows us to analyze the correlation between any specific news event and changes in the day-by-day trend line of presidential approval.

On Monday of this week I reviewed these data and concluded: "No Sign That Obama's Overall Job Approval Rating Has Been Significantly Affected."

Based on weekly Gallup averages, here's what I said:

There is less evidence that the oil spill has affected Obama's standing in the public's eye from a comparison of his weekly overall job approval average before the BP spill on April 20 with his average after the spill. Obama's ratings have been slightly lower in the last four weeks than they were in the four weeks prior to that, but his average in either time period is not much different from his 48% average in the four weeks immediately prior to the spill . . . However, weekly trends in Obama's overall job approval rating show no significant impact from the oil spill; his weekly average now is little different from what it was in the weeks prior to the spill.

Now. That was through last week; Obama's weekly job approval average for June 15-21 was 47%. This week, so far, Monday through Thursday, Obama has been averaging 45%. If this lower trend continues through the weekend (by no means guaranteed), then we will report a dip by next week.

But, by this point in time, it's getting more and more difficult (and it never was easy) to establish causality between changes in Obama's approval rating and the oil spill. There are other variables coming into play as each day goes on. In particular, this past week we have the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal (and we'll have some specific data on the public's reaction to that on Monday), plus the tentative passage of a new financial reform bill much pushed by the Obama administration. Either could be affecting Obama's job approval rating -- along with economic news, the Dow, and a host of other variables not as dramatically obvious as the oil spill.

As noted, the further away we get from the April 20 oil spill, the lower the certainty with which we can attribute changes in Obama's job approval rating to it -- or any specific event.

But the data to date do show little evidence of a dramatic drop in Obama's job approval rating immediately after -- or two months after -- the BP oil platform explosion and the beginning of the oil leak/spill.

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