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As Republicans fought to win over Southern hearts and minds Tuesday, a pair of polls pointed toward a dramatic slide in support for President Obama, setting the Interwebs on fire with theories, complaints and cheers.
A New York Times and CBS News poll, the more drastic of the two, showed that the president’s approval rating had dropped to a 2012 low of 41 percent, down a precipitous 9 percent from the same organizations’ February poll. The apparent drop puts a crimp in the emerging narrative, as of the new year, that a handful of positive economic reports had put Obama on track to improve his numbers and take the election in November.
Of course, the report set off the race to find out why exactly this poll decline had occurred. From the left, Jonathan Chait at New York Mag claimed a change in Obama’s rhetoric (specifically, use of the phrase “America is back”) might be to blame. On the right, The Daily Caller found a possible culprit in the ongoing national debate on reproductive freedom, which reporter Mickey Kaus perceived Democrats as clearly losing. There were many others: Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein attributed it to statistical noise, while the Post fingered a rise in gas prices.
But for our tastes, it doesn’t get much clearer than the revelation, brought to our attention by the good people at The People’s View, that the population samples between the two NYT/CBS polls diverged in one telling way:?The latter one included far more Republican primary voters, a group of people much likelier to oppose President Obama than the average voter.
Perhaps the takeaway is simply that polling — that great headline-generating beast — is actually widely misused and poorly understood. (Have any of our readers ever been polled? We haven’t.)?Expect more on this in the future.
Follow Brayden Simms on Twitter @metropolitik