The PJ Tatler

Has Obama really bounced to 60% approval?

That’s what the AP would have you believe, dropping this poll like a spiked football.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating has hit its highest point in two years — 60 percent — and more than half of Americans now say he deserves to be re-elected, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll taken after U.S. forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

In worrisome signs for Republicans, the president’s standing improved not just on foreign policy but also on the economy, and independent Americans — a key voting bloc in the November 2012 presidential election — caused the overall uptick in support by sliding back to Obama after fleeing for much of the past two years.

Yellow flag: With gas prices continuing to rise, home values continuing to fall and inflation becoming more of a threat as unemployment remains stuck at 9%, how did Obama’s approval rating on the economy improve?

It didn’t, or at least, the AP poll doesn’t show that it really has. The AP has delivered an outlier poll here, and Ed at Hot Air does the number crunching to show how:

The Dem/Rep/Ind breakdown in this poll is 46/29/4, as AP assigned most of the leaners to the parties.  That is a 17-point gap, more than twice what was seen in the 2008 actual popular vote that elected Obama.  It only gets worse when independents are assigned properly.  When taking out the leaners, the split becomes — I’m not kidding — 35/18/27.  Oh, and another 20% “don’t know.”  That’s significantly worse than the March poll, in which the proper D/R/I was 29/20/34, and far beyond their post-midterm sample of 31/28/26.  It’s pretty easy to get Obama to 60% when Republicans are undersampled by almost half.

Indeed, and the AP seems to be aware that its sampling is problematic. You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the article about the poll, which most readers won’t do, click on a link that’s labeled “Online” with a URL, then click on a link sandwiched between two large graphics to even get at the poll data. And the partisan breakdown itself is in the middle of the PDF, not the top or the bottom where it’s easier to find. Most readers will react to the headline and at most the first paragraph or two, and only a tiny tiny number will ever jump through all the obstacles AP has tossed in the way to get to the data that drives it. All in all, AP has done a better than average job of hiding the data in a way that gives them a plausible out since they can claim “But we linked it!” Yeah, about as indirectly as they could.