Why are Obama’s job-approval numbers so jumpy and widely varied?


I haven’t bothered to research the historical context for this matter, but President Obama’s job-approval ratings in recent polls seem to be unusually volatile.

For example, would you be surprised to learn that Obama’s approval-disapproval numbers are close to even in the two most recent three-day tracking polls? Well, they are. The latest numbers from Gallup for three days of polling early this week  show only a small gap, close to the poll’s margin of error. And the figures from Rasmussen Reports, which has a reputation for leaning right, are basically even over the same three-day period.

But an Economist/YouGov poll conducted last weekend had a 14-point gap to the negative side on Obama’s job performance.

And yet a Bloomberg poll on the previous weekend showed the president’s job ratings to be dead even at 48 percentage points.

So, what’s going on? I’m not sure. Ordinarily, there’s not so much divergence in numbers reported by reputable pollsters. Perhaps the missing airplane story, the college basketball tournament and other factors are diverting the attention of most Americans. Perhaps, too, there’s a rally-round-the-flag factor arising from the  situation in Ukraine. (After all, most Americans seem to approve of Obama’s approach to the situation.)

But I’m guessing that a narrower range in the president’s poll numbers will emerge as this mid-term election year progresses.


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