Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
It then delivered the “unreliable” news. The poll, it reported, “has a significant realignment this week across a number of metrics.”
The president’s approval rating hit 48 percent in its survey and 49 percent with registered voters. His approval rating climbed significantly. His job performance rose across the board – it’s now 57 percent approval for his handling of the economy and 44 percent approval of the way the president “treats people like me.”
Usually, the term “outlier” is reserved for polling conducted by Rasmussen and Associates. Although Scott Rasmussen partners with Doug Schoen, a Democrat pollster who worked for President Clinton, mainstream media derides his polling as “consistently friendlier to Trump (and more unfavorable to Obama) than most polls.”
Rasmussen, which conducts the only daily presidential tracking poll in operation at this time, predicted Trump would win the presidential election and has had him higher in general approval than other polls almost the entire time since. Trump was at 47 percent in Wednesday’s tracking poll, but he has been as high as 51 percent in recent days.
Last month, when the president started to break through the 50 percent mark on a regular basis in the Rasmussen polls, Philip Bump of the Post wrote an article headlined, “Five things to keep in mind whenever Trump tweets about polling.” Three of the five involved Rasmussen.
In one, Bump claims that 93 percent of the Rasmussen polls taken in the first 15 months of the Obama administration put President Obama’s poll numbers lower than the Real Clear Politics average of polls and 99 percent of the polls since President Trump took office gave him more favorable ratings.
Bump said Nate Silver, editor of FiveThirtyEight, a polling site, called Rasmussen’s “Republican lean” a “house effect,” that it’s “hard to say with certainty” whether even the trends in Rasmussen’s polling are correct, that “Obama’s average has always been higher,” that Trump’s numbers are “historically low” and “it’s not clear what, if anything, might break that pattern.”
But stories began appearing a few months ago – and have intensified since – that Trump’s polling numbers are better than Obama’s at this stage of their administrations. On April 2, for instance, Trump stood at 49 percent approval in the Rasmussen poll – to 46 percent for President Obama on the same day in his first year-plus of office.
And not everyone is convinced Rasmussen polls are inaccurate. John Zogby, a favorite pollster among the mainstream media, says Rasmussen’s polls are among the most accurate because they use likely voters, as opposed to “adults” or “registered voters” – and they are careful not to over-poll Democrats as some organizations do.
“I have seen off-year polls showing big Democratic leads only to look at the samples that reveal only 28 percent or 24 percent of those polled identifying as Republican. That is just not America,” he wrote in Forbes.
“While I often look at the averages of all the polls, I do tend to favor not only polls that feature my last name but also those of the Rasmussen organization, not only because these are among the most accurate over the years but also because of the attention they place on getting party identification closer to reality.”
Reprinted with author’s permission from Accuracy in Media