Saturday, July 12, 2003

Don't Get Too Excited

Here's another poll, this from Newsweek, probably from next week's issue:

More than half of those polled, 53 percent, said the Bush administration did not purposely mislead the public about evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to build support for the war, while 38 percent said the administration had misled the public.

And in an indication of how the controversy over an incorrect assertion by Bush in his January State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa was playing to the public, 72 percent said they had not heard about it.

No, I don't mean too excited, upset, I mean too excited, hopeful.

Because in spite of the knowledge gap expressed by that 72 % of those polled:

Bush's approval rating for his handling of the military operation in Iraq fell to 53 percent among those surveyed on July 10-11, from 65 percent in a May 29-30 poll, and a high of 74 percent in an April 10-11 poll taken just after Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in Iraq, Newsweek said.

And astonishingly:

The president's overall rating slipped to 55 percent from 61 percent in the May poll.


Among registered voters, 50 percent said issues of the economy and jobs would be more important than terrorism and homeland security in determining their vote in next year's presidential elections. Twenty-two percent said terrorism and homeland security would be more important issues.

The registered voters surveyed were split on whether they wanted Bush to serve another term, with 47 percent saying they would like to see Bush re-elected and 46 percent saying they would not, while 7 percent were undecided.

Okay, it's just one poll, although others seem to be "trending" in the same direction. I'm generally skeptical of polls, but I've reluctantly come to accept that quite aside from any value they have in telling you accurately where the rest of America stands, they influence the opinions of the opinion-makers. In Eric Alterman's priceless trop, polls are another way to "work the refs."

Anyone with a more nuanced understanding of statistics is invited to comment.