Searching for a Silver Lining
4:02 PM, Mar 14, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Yesterday the Journal published a piece by pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen examining the decline in Obama's approval rating since his inauguration. They write:
Nate Silver disputes this. According to Silver, Obama's numbers have declined but his "approval ratings are now fairly average for someone 50 days or so into his Presidency...A well-rounded commentary on Barack Obama popularity would take note of this context." Rasmussen polling shows Obama's approval at 56 percent, while the Pollster.com average has the number at
Silver acts as though this decline was a foregone conclusion. As the title of his post reads, "Yes, Obama's Approval Ratings Are Declining. What Did You Expect?" But back in January, Silver seemed to expect that Obama's numbers would rise -- not fall. Silver wrote on January 18, "My guess is that when Gallup comes out with its first post-inauguration approval ratings for Obama later this week, it will show him with about 76 percent approval." That didn't happen, instead Obama's approval fell to 62 percent.
Obama's numbers put him right about where you'd expect based on historical precedent -- which is worse than Silver expected. It seems disingenuous for Silver to now claim that "this is all completely predictable" and that the only conclusion these numbers justify is that "most Americans support most parts of Obama's agenda."
*The 64 percent figure was Obama's favorable number, now changed to show the more relevant 59 percent approval number, which has declined by five points since Obama's inauguration.