On September 4, Associated Press reporters Steve Peoples and Michael R. Blood celebrated the negatives towards the Tea Party found in a typically sample-skewed AP-GfK poll taken in mid-August. "Somehow," they failed to report on the president's growing negatives found in a separate AP-GfK poll report with the same respondents.
Based on what I saw in AP-GfK's May effort, which had a sample of 46%-29% Democrats vs. Republicans (including independent leaners), I determined that the joint effort's acronym should really stand for "Absolutely Pathetic Garbage for Koolaiders." Though August's sample bias not quite as bad, it was still blatant enough (43-32 Dems vs. GOP) to make the overall results lean left by at least 4-5 points, or 8-10 margin points, on key questions. Peoples and Blood may or may not be koolaiders, but they certainly tailored their narrative (as seen in text bolded by me) to those who are:
Tea party forcefully shaping 2012 GOP race
The tea party is forcefully shaping the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination as candidates parrot the movement's language and promote its agenda while jostling to win its favor.
That's much to the delight of Democrats who are working to paint the tea party and the eventual Republican nominee as extreme.
... Such (GOP candidate) overtures come with risks, given that more Americans are cooling to the tea party's unyielding tactics and bare-bones vision of the federal government.
After Washington's debt showdown this summer, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that 46 percent of adults had an unfavorable view of the tea party, compared with 36 percent just after last November's election.
It could give President Barack Obama and his Democrats an opening should the Republican nominee be closely aligned with the tea party.
Yet even as the public begins to sour on the movement, Romney and other GOP candidates are shrugging off past tea party disagreements to avoid upsetting activists.
... Each time a candidate is linked to the movement, the Democratic National Committee gleefully works to brand the candidate, and the Republican Party in general, as outside the mainstream.
Not that they'll listen to me, but if the DNC is basing their branding strategy on the comparative AP-GfK polls cited (August 2011 vs. November 2010), they're wasting their time:
At least six or seven points of the 10-point increase in Tea Party unfavorables from November 2010 to August 2011 is likely explained by the 4-point increase in Democrats and the 4-point increase in "don't knows," who are more likely than most to be influenced by biased TV and radio reporting driven by the likes of the Associated Press. The four-point decline in favorables is more than likely directly traceable to the 6-point smaller GOP element of the sample.
So maybe three or at most four points of the shift in Tea Party unfavorables is due to a legitimate change in sentiment. After the relentless assault on the Tea Party by Democrats and the establishment press (which in many cases, as with AP, stubbornly refuses to capitalize "Tea Party"), it's almost a miracle that the legitimate shift is as low as it is.
Thus, despite Peoples' partying and Blood's blathering, the "Tea Party in decline" narrative doesn't really fly -- and certainly not to the point where it's worth framing an entire story in it.
What does fly is the fact that since November 2010, in AP-GfK's Obama-related topline on the very same respondents, despite a 10-point increase in the Democrat-Republican differential from +1 to +11:
- The President's approval-disapproval went from 47-51 to 46-52. If the November 2010 group was sampled today, it's almost certain that his net disapproval would be in double digits.
- His current -1 "deserves to be reelected" would be close to double digits in a sample similar to November 2010.
- His net disapproval on the economy went from -17 to -37. It would certainly be worse than -40 with a November 2010-like sample, and the strong disapproval, currently 48% would certainly be over 50%.
Now to be fair, the AP did cover Obama's popularity problems in an August 25 report by Tom Raum. But, obviously, the skewed sample understated the true extent of his problems -- something you can't say about Peoples' and Blood's assessment of the Tea Party's situation.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.