A March 13 CBS News poll showed President Bush's approval rating at 34 percent -- unchanged from a February 28 CBS poll, despite a substantial increase in the number of Republicans polled relative to Democrats and independents. Conservative media figures attacked the earlier poll's validity, arguing that CBS' sample included a higher percentage of Democrats than they contended accurately reflected the general population. Now that CBS has released an updated poll showing that a roughly equal percentage of Democrats and Republicans produced the same approval rating for Bush, will the same media figures who denounced the prior poll report on the newest results?
A March 13 poll released by CBS News showed President Bush's approval rating at 34 percent, unchanged from CBS' previous poll released on February 28, despite a substantial increase in the number of Republicans polled relative to Democrats and independents. As Rolling Stone contributing editor Eric Boehlert noted on the Huffington Post weblog, despite "the nearly 30 percent increase in Republicans, [and] the 10 percent decrease in Democrats" in the new CBS poll, Bush's approval numbers "did not budge one inch." Upon the earlier poll's release, as Media Matters for America noted, conservative media figures attacked the poll's validity, arguing that CBS' sample included a higher percentage of Democrats than they contended accurately reflected the general population. Boehlert noted that the "silence from the Republican noise machine has been deafening" since the updated poll's release.
As Media Matters noted, conservatives launched unfounded attacks on the February 28 CBS poll, which showed that Bush's approval rating had sunk to the lowest of his presidency. Republican strategist Richard A. Galen observed in a column for the conservative Cybercast News Service that the adjusted percentages in the poll -- 37 percent Democrats and 28 percent Republicans -- did in fact reflect the proportion of Democrats and Republicans in the general population. And pollster Mark Blumenthal noted on the Mystery Pollster weblog that, even if the sample were weighted to make it more closely reflect previous CBS poll samples, the results would likely be similar because of Bush's low approval among independents. As Mystery Pollster has also noted, CBS weights its polls based on demographics, not political affiliation.
Now that CBS has released an updated poll showing that a roughly equal percentage of Democrats and Republicans produces the same approval rating for Bush, those same media figures who denounced the prior poll have yet to report on the newest results.* Below are their prior denunciations:
- Rush Limbaugh, from the February 28 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show: "This is not representative of the -- of the population of the country in any way, shape, manner, or form. Nor is the fact that Bush has 34 percent. ... You just know that's not possible. It simply isn't possible." During the March 14 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh again referred to CBS' "bugged poll" showing a Bush approval rating of 34 percent.
- Fox News host Sean Hannity, from the February 28 edition of Hannity & Colmes: "Look at, for example, you have these polls that came out today in CBS. And if you look at the headline, it says, "Bush lowest number in his presidency." The first thing we find out that nearly two to one they polled Democrats."
- Fox News host Brit Hume, from February 28 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume: "Yes, there's good reason to be skeptical of this CBS poll. It's wildly oversampled Democrats, it appears, anyway."
- Fox News host John Gibson, from the February 28 edition of The Big Story with John Gibson: "A new CBS News poll puts the president's job approval number at an all-time low, 34 percent. Of course, it's weighted with more Democrats, so you've got to take that into account."
* Search of Nexis transcripts for "Hume/Gibson/Hannity and Bush and poll"; "Hume/Gibson/Hannity and Bush and approval"