Andrew Malcolm's sleight-of-hand: Palin almost as popular as Obama!

Andrew Malcolm's sleight-of-hand: Palin almost as popular as Obama!


Los Angeles Times' Andrew Malcolm tries a nifty little sleight-of-hand in his November 23 blog post titled "Sarah Palin v. Barack Obama: The approval gap silently shrinks to a few points" and gets rewarded by Drudge for it. Problem is, it's not even close to true.

Malcolm writes:

Sarah Palin's poll numbers are strengthening.

And President Obama's are sliding.

Guess what? They're about to meet in the 40s.

Depending, of course, on which recent set of numbers you peruse and how the questions are phrased, 307 days into his allotted 1,461, the 44th president's approval rating among Americans has slid to 49% or 48%, showing no popularity bounce from his many happy trips, foreign and domestic.

Riding the wave of immense publicity and symbiotic media interest over her new book, "Going Rogue," and the accompanying promotional tour, Palin's favorable ratings are now at 43%, according to ABC. That's up from 40% in July.

One poll even gives her a 47% favorable.

Most recent media attention has focused on the 60% who say she's unqualified to become president. Her unfavorable rating is 52%, down from 53%, which still doesn't ignite a lot of optimism for Palin lovers.

The problem is that Malcolm is comparing Obama's approval ratings (his job performance ratings) with Palin's favorability ratings. In fact, when asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Obama and Palin, the gap is hardly "a few points."

Here are the most recent favorable-unfavorable ratios for Obama and Palin:

CNN 60-39 42-51
ABC News/Wash Post 61-38 43-52
Gallup 56-40 40-50
Fox 54-42 47-42

Even in the Fox poll, there is still a 7-point difference in favorability. Referring to that poll, Malcolm writes that "[o]ne poll even gives her a 47% favorable," yet he neglects to mention the 7-point difference or that Obama is at 54% favorable, which is above the "49% or 48%" he suggests Obama has.

I didn't list the CBS News/New York Times poll because its most recent question on Obama's favorability was in July, but a November 13-15 CBS News survey found that 23% -- less than 1 in 4 - had a favorable view of Palin. Obama's approval rating was 53% in that November poll - again, a far cry from Malcolm's claim of a "few points" difference.

Moreover, Palin's 23 percent rating in November is the same as it was in July when she resigned as governor. Even Malcolm notes that Palin is now "[r]iding the wave of immense publicity and symbiotic media interest over her new book, 'Going Rogue,' and the accompanying promotional tour.' " (And that coverage has certainly been nothing but positive and exhausting.) ABC News/Wash Post has her up three points since July - which Malcolm cites - but she's down three points in the Gallup poll since July.

Even as she rides the crest of that wave of "immense publicity and symbiotic media interest," Palin remains just about as unpopular as when she left office in July. And she is certainly nowhere near as popular as Obama.

Los Angeles Times
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.