The AP: Fun with Poll Numbers

The Associated Press is up to its old tricks again. In its latest doom and gloom piece, “Poll: Groups Unhappy with Bush Performance,” they report that the president’s approval rating dropped to 39% in the most recent AP/Ipsos poll. Add to that today’s CBS poll that has the number at 37% and Bush supporters might have reason to squirm…except that they don’t.As is usual, these anti-Bush organizations under-poll Republicans while over-polling Democrats. The AP survey contained only 40% Republicans versus 48% Democrats, while the CBS boys tilted the playing field an amazing 43% to 57% in favor of the Dems.A further dig into the AP/Ipsos numbers reveals just who is being polled. Of the “average” folks interviewed, only 50% were employed full-time, 47% had a combined household income under $50,000 a year and most curiously, 20%--or double the national level--claimed no religious affiliation. But the best part of AP-watching is the way they come up with new ways to blur facts they deem un-necessary or counter to their agenda. Notice, when the numbers are “good” they’re given in clear numeric form:Those most likely to have lost confidence about the nation's direction over the past year include white evangelicals, down 30 percentage points since November, Republican women, down 28 points, Southerners, down 26 points, and suburban men, down 20 points.Conversely, when the numbers reflect trends that run contrary to the AP’s viewpoint, imprecise spelled-out fractions are used:Almost two-thirds of Republicans strongly approved of the job done by Bush in December 2004, soon after his re-election. The AP-Ipsos survey found that just half in his own party feel that way now.The difference is most prominent in this confusing passage:The president's job approval is mired at the lowest level of his presidency — 39 percent. While four of five Republicans say they approve of Bush's job performance — enthusiasm in that support has dipped over the last year.The AP: proving that they not only cook the numbers, they cook the text as well.