Here’s how the Des Moines Register misreads its own poll

The Des Moines Register, the biggest newspaper in Iowa, published a STORY yesterday in which it claimed, on the basis of a poll it commissioned, that President Obama “is in trouble in Iowa.”

But how much “trouble” for Obama does the poll actually indicate?

Does it show that Iowans disapprove of the president’s job performance by a significant margin? No, it doesn’t. Forty-eight percent disapprove, while 46 percent approve. That’s a virtual tie. And it precisely matches Obama’s job-performance numbers nationally, as reflected in the latest Gallup Daily Tracking poll.

Does the Des Moines Register poll show that Mitt Romney has a significant lead on Obama in a hypothetical matchup? No. The numbers for the two of them are within the poll’s margin of error?

Does it show a significant lead for Rick Santorum over Obama? No. The gap there is even smaller than in the Romney matchup.

How about Newt Gingrich? In that case, the difference is well beyond the poll’s margin of error. Obama leads by 14 percentage points.

What about Ron Paul? Well, the poll shows Obama trailing the Texas libertarian by seven percentage points. But, of course, there’s nary a political scientist in the land who thinks Ron Paul has any chance of winning the Republican nomination. And if he runs as a third party candidate, he’ll only make it easier for Obama to win a second term.

So, the only conclusion to draw from all of this is that the Des Moines Register seems to have been predisposed to slant its interpretation of its own poll in a manner that casts a negative light on President Obama’s political standing in Iowa.

The numbers, however, especially when the poll’s margin of error is taken into account, suggest that the situation is not as bad as the newspaper would  have us believe.





  1. Iowa supported Obama 54% to 44% (McCain in 2008.. A statistical tie means trouble for Obama.

  2. Trouble? Please. We’re eight months out from the election, Obama has no defined opponent and the GOP is hell-bent, at least at the moment, on nominating a right-wing whacko. The only poll that matters is the one on election day.

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