People who don’t know how to read polls falsely claim that Bush is now more popular than Obama


Under the headline “Bush More Popular Than Obama,” the right-wing Web site Breitbart.com carried THIS STORY the other day:

In a Gallup tracking poll released Tuesday, former-President George W. Bush currently stands with a favorability rating of 49%, compared to 46% who see the 43rd president unfavorably. Meanwhile, another Gallup poll shows President Obama with only a 47% percent approval rating, with 44% disapproving.

But there are several big problems with that claim, not the least of which is that it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison. Favorability ratings and job-approval ratings, as measured by Gallup, are two different things.

For example, the last time Gallup did a poll on Obama’s favorability rating was in mid-April. It showed that 55 percent of respondents viewed the president favorably, while 43 percent had an unfavorable view. But here’s the rub: A poll conducted at the same time on Obama’s job-performance rating showed 48 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.

In other words, on the favorability scale — which measures likability and such — Obama’s numbers were 12 points to the good. On job performance, his numbers were only two points to the good. You see, the favorability and job-performance questions are not the same, and neither are the responses.

This difference was also evident throughout the presidency of George W. Bush. His favorability numbers were almost never as low as his job-performance numbers.

Consider, for example, results of Gallup polls conducted in the second full week of February in 2007, well more than a year before the nation’s economy collapsed. Bush’s job-performance rating was 37 percent positive and 59 percent negative. But his favorability rating was 44 percent favorable and 55 percent unfavorable.

The job-performance numbers were 22 points to the bad, while the  favorability numbers were only 11 points to the bad. That’s a considerable difference.

In summation, I don’t know for sure if the misleading story at Breitbart is a result of ignorance or a deliberate attempt to fool the folks who regularly visit that site.



  1. Brian Opsahl

    Bush had everybody on his side just after 911….and slowly as we got to see his programs at work that faded away and as it ended that turned to anger….republicans should be mad at Bush for Mr.Obama becoming President.

  2. Neftali

    “his programs at work that faded away”? like what?

    No Child Left Behind? Clinton voted for it, and it’s still active.
    Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act? Still active
    His tax cuts for the middle class and poor? still active.
    Patriot Act? still active

    So what are these programs that “faded away?”

  3. Orlando Clay

    Pat Cunningham muses: : “…..I don’t know for sure if the misleading story at Breitbart is a result of ignorance or a deliberate attempt to fool the folks who regularly visit that site.”

    Probably a little of both. Remember, for most Cons, the term “scientific statistical analysis” refers to a review of the latest NASCAR points standings rather than a thorough study by the likes of, say, Nate Silver.

    It’s a darn shame, however, that conservative propaganda…er, uh, news outlets like Breitbart, WorldNet Daily, Newsmax, The Blaze and, of course, Faux News continue to get away with their overt and unapologetic attempts to whitewash the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice legacy of of lies, corruption, incompetence, arrogance, destruction, and all-around mayhem. Thankfully, much to the chagrin of conservatives, the naked truth is only a Google search away.

  4. Brian Opsahl

    The patriot act is active but has always been unpopular…for many reasons.
    Medicare perscriptions improvement…like the no neogatiation price feasko…that was set-up to make it fail…? also he never funded it…correct..?

    His middle class tax cut was a pitance compared to what the aready filthy rich got…and the damadge is still being felt…yes Obama has extented them for many reasons but NOT the rich ones…correct..?

  5. How about his war of aggression in Iraq?

    Or the war profiteering program where contractors bilked us for many billions?

    Or his program to opt out of five important international treaties and commitments: the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty and the International Criminal Court?

    Or how about the odious Cheney Doctrine, that says “if there is even a 1% chance American interests are in jeopardy somewhere in the world, unilateral American military interventions are justified”, and this without conclusive evidence or analysis?

    Or the unconstitutional practice of adding signing statements to new laws, stating that he has the right, as President, to violate any section of a law, should he deem it in the national interest to do so?

    Or his program to suspend the right of habeas corpus?

    Or his program to authorize torture?

    Or his rendition program that created concentration camps in foreign countries?

    Or his economic program that led to the weakest performance since Hoover?

    Or his failed program to privatize social security (he called this his biggest regret, LMAO)?

    Or his Energy Department’s loan guarantee program that led to gross failures such as Solyndra (a specific company that he prioritized)?


    Or his program to provide our soldiers with adequate equipment and medical care?

    Or his program to manage the calamity of Hurricane Katrina?

    Or his program to to deny federal funding to embryonic stem cell research?

    Or his program to keep Iran free of nuclear technology?

    Or his program for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation?

    Or his program to out Valerie Plame and then commute Scooter Libby?

    Or his program to shrink the number of unisured Americans?

    Or his program to avoid the catasrophe of global warming?

    Or his program to invest in the nation’s vital infrastructure?

    I could go on, of course.

  6. Brian Opsahl

    I guess we are forgetting the biggest one….

    He couldn’t find Bin Ladin….because well he just didn’t care about him anymore…and those 3000 dead Americans….yea THAT…!!

  7. Steverino

    There’s an albatross hanging around Bush’s neck called Iraq and like the Ancient Mariner he will carry that as punishment for his criminal deed.

  8. expdoc

    Liberal hate is such spectacularly sad thing to behold.

  9. Considering how popular Dubya was when he skulked from office, the hate is not limited to liberals, exdoc.

    There will be no revisionist lionizing of this man by his party. Not soon. Not ever.

    And if Jebediah runs, brace yourself for a deluge of Dubyabuse from other primary candidates.

  10. Craig Knauss

    “Liberal hate is such spectacularly sad thing to behold.”

    Gee, doc, I wish you could have seen the first Tea Party rally held out here in eastern Washington. It was less than 3 months after Obama took office. Your conservative buddies took “hate” from the realm of “sad” to nauseating, at best. It looked like a mixer between the Klan and the Aryan Nation, but without the brown shirts and bedsheets. BTW, they also used the occasion to endorse a far-rightwinger for the U.S. Senate and then applied for tax exempt status because they were “non-political”.

    Anyway, please feel free to explain how a tabulation of GWB’s accomplishments constitutes “hate”.

  11. Craig: There are times when I wish we had “like” buttons on these threads — just like Facebook — so that we could register approval of certain comments.

    Your comment above is an example of what I’m talking about,..

  12. Craig Knauss


    I wish I could have posted something different. I knew this area out here was conservative, but I was shocked at the signs, etc. that were at that Tea Party rally. I know some moderate Republicans who were shocked and embarrassed by it. President Obama was being portrayed as Hitler, Satan, the Joker, etc. and he had only been sworn in 85 days earlier. These people were claiming he had already destroyed our country and all sorts of other claims. One co-worker announced the next morning after the election (Nov. 2008) that we had just lost all our freedoms, before Obama even took office. Of course, he has never said which freedoms we lost. The righties claim Bush was treated the same way. Yes, Bush was soundly criticized, but it didn’t start the morning after his first election. He got to serve at least a 6 month grace period to prove himself. Obama was being denounced before he was even sworn in.

    Maybe nauseating was an understatement.

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