Behind the Numbers

By Robert Wallace
America’s Right

Americans who believe that Obama’s progressive agenda is a danger to our Constitutional traditions and institutions have been encouraged by the Rasmussen Presidential Approval Index. The PAI is computed very simply — take the number of people who “Strongly Approve” of Obama and subtract the number of people who “Strongly Disapprove” and you get the index. If more people strongly approve, the index is positive. If more people strongly disapprove, the index is negative. As mentioned here at America’s Right this morning, the Index reached zero on June 28th and has continued a steady downward plunge since then.

As of today, it stands at -8.

Rasmussen’s method is a bit unusual. Most polls report just approval and disapproval rather than breaking it down into different degrees of approval and disapproval. Rasmussen provides these numbers as well. Today’s Daily Presidential Tracking Poll reveals the overall approval rating from Rasmussen is 51% and the overall disapproval rating stands at 48%.

Another incredibly useful site is There, you can compare the results from numerous different polls about Obama’s approval rating. Here’s what today’s graph of various approval polls looks like:

Ryan Best–a friend who reads my Facebook page–pointed out that, when he checked Rasmussen against the other polls, he noticed that Rasmussen stuck out. The approval rating didn’t seem that unusual, but the Rasmussen disapproval rating was much, much higher than the other polls. Since polls always have margins of error, you expect to see results from different polls to be similar to one another but not identical. Without doing any rigorous testing, I could chalk the difference in the approval up to that kind of random fluctuation. But not the disapproval numbers. Rasmussen disapproval numbers are substantially higher than other polls, and the discrepancy is consistent. Clearly there’s something going on. also includes the ability to apply a few filters to the data. I didn’t have the time to mess with them today, but Ryan did. Ryan found that Rasmussen and three other polls are collected using robo-calls. Most of the other polls (about 10 of them) are collected using live interviews on the phone. Here are the results I followed up on Ryan’s research:

So there’s a 5-point spread in the approval ratings between robo calls and live calls, but there’s whopping 11.3-point spread between the disapproval ratings for robo calls and live calls. For example:

If you combine the two, this means that we’re talking about over a 16-point swing in Obama’s job approval based on whether you do a live interview or a robo call.

It also means (if you assume the higher disapproval rate is correct) that about one quarter of Americans who disapprove of Obama don’t want to tell a live pollster that they disapprove of Obama. In short: they lie.

The entire Obama campaign has been founded on an empty façade, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that his popularity is also based on a myth. It’s also not surprising that people are lying about their approval for Obama. That’s human nature. Obama is the “in” thing. He’s a celebrity. All the kids are doing it. That could explain why people tend to respond more favorably about Obama when asked by another person, but there’s a much more powerful explanation for why they lie about their disapproval.

I can remember in high school when we were marched off to a Black History Month assembly I muttered something like: “When do we get an Irish History Month?” I spent the entire assembly enduring a couple of classmates–all white–whispering stuff from the chairs behind me along the lines of: “Where’s your white robe and hat?” Clearly if I was grumpy about a mandatory assembly for black heritage but no other heritages, the only explanation could be that I was a closet Klu Klux Klan member. It’s like I went to school with a bunch of white Al Sharptons, minus the pinstripes, pocket square and the bouffant hair-do.

How easy do you think it was to speak negatively of black history month after that?

The next year–as a sophomore–we had a substitute teacher in our English class. We broke into groups with an assignment to discuss whether a given historical figure was a great leader or not. My group had John F. Kennedy. I pointed out his numerous affairs and the Bay of Pigs fiasco and argued that he was not a great leader. The substitute teacher–who was black–sat down, cut off every other student in the group, and proceeded to lecture me about how much Kennedy had down for civil rights. I refused to back down, and when I got home from school that day I was met by my tearful mother who had been called by school administrators and informed that the teacher was attempting to have me thrown out of the school. (I attended a public magnet school, and so they could potentially kick me back into the normal high school.)

In the end, the administration decided not to attempt to give me the boot — but how easy do you think it was for me to speak my mind about anything related to race after that?

I was a senior in high school during the infamous David Howard incident. Howard, who is white, was an aide to Washington, D.C. mayor Anthony Williams, who is black. During a budget meeting, Howard used the word “niggardly” in reference to the budget. One of Williams’ associates–also black–didn’t know what the word meant. He assumed it had some kind of racial connotation, and he complained to Williams. Despite that the word “niggardly” has nothing to do with race, Howard was forced to resign.

Once again, I got the message loud and clear.

Don’t complain about affirmative action style policies, or you will be branded a racist. Don’t say anything negative about anyone who has anything to do with civil rights or you will be branded a racist. Don’t even say anything completely unrelated to race that can be ignorantly misperceived as racist or you will be branded a racist. Just this past weekend, for example, New York congressman Peter King complained about the coverage Michael Jackson’s death was receiving in the media and compared it with the lack of coverage of the death of American servicemen and servicewomen abroad — and was labeled a racist by Al Sharpton. (The real Al Sharpton.)

This is the world that suburban Americans grow up in. We are caught between constant cries for “dialogue on race” and the cold, simple truth that if we actually open our mouths we are likely to be maligned, fired, sued, or worse.

The 2008 election was billed as a referendum on race. Americans know how to react to a referendum on race. We have been trained. We shut up, go along, and don’t rock the boat. It should not be surprising, given that training, that folks are inclined to lie about their approval for Obama to a live interviewer. I wonder if they even realize they are doing it.

Aside from the discussion of race in American politics, Ryan’s discovery has huge implications for Obama’s political future. As Ryan put it:

Saying “I don’t like Obama” is unpopular right now, so that may skew those [live interview] results. Once that’s less of a faux pas to say in polite company the voice polls will probably get closer to the automated polls.

I think Ryan is absolutely right. For the time being, the Rasmussen poll stands out as an anomaly, and so it is easy to downplay. But as long as Matt Drudge keeps splashing it across his headline and readers keep sharing it with friends and family, the myth of Obama’s political capital is going to erode. Once Americans realize how many other people disapprove of Obama but are afraid to say so, they will likely stop perpetuating the myth. We’ll see the rest of the polls start to descend to the level of the Rasmussen polls and quite possibly keep on going down.

I don’t think this is just a possibility. It’s inevitable. The problem isn’t whether or not Obama falls, but how much damage he can inflict before the fall and how much societal damage may be incurred when he does fall. It is very unfortunate for America that his presidency is about race. Race has nothing to do with Obama’s unpopularity. Instead, it’s his dangerous and un-American progressive policies. But if liberal Americans are pushed into a defensive stance, they will invariably decide to play the race card to try and stem a surging tide of disapproval. The resulting fallout will be toxic to American society and only serve to further radicalize an already fractured public.

Robert Wallace has an academic background in mathematics and systems engineering. He has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.




    A kindred spirit !!!

  2. Celia in TX says:

    I have had this conversation over and over. It goes exactly like this no matter who I talk to (C&P from a blog I was participating in the other day):

    (For perspective, we were talking about the perceived lack of diversity at tea parties.)

    WOMAN: To be perfectly honest, as a white woman, I thought about coming to the tea party to see for myself, but my husband mentioned to me these are angry Republicans with guns, false talking points, and he feared for my safety since I'm pretty liberal, and you can't even see I'm liberal. The people in attendance hate Democrats. HATE. THey say liberalism is a mental disease. "Eliminationism". They know 96% of black Americans voted for Obama. Do the math.

    MY REPLY: I'm just a mom, don't own a gun, my own mom is a Democrat (I definitely don't hate my Mom), several people I know that have gone to a tea party are Democrats. Anyone who loves freedom is welcome at a TEA party, and it is not at all what articles like this have made it out to be….not at all.

    WOMAN: And luv, with no disrespect to you personally, I'm tired of hearing "I love _____ people. I have friends and/or family who are ________."

    IN THE MEANTIME, SOMEONE ELSE SAID THIS: ""The thing is that the 99 percent problem is a hard one to overlook. [As I recall, they're saying that 99% of tea party attendees are white.] No, it does not mean those people are inherently racist, but it does mean that conservatives have a problem."

    MY REPLY: That conversation cannot take place without talking about all of the wonderful people who do make up the "other 1%", but whenever it's brought up, I have the person like the one who replied to me earlier who seem to be under the impression that we're simply claiming those great people as tokens, which is utterly not the case. That type of remark has happened to me before which makes it quite impossible for us to meet you halfway in that discussion."

  3. Celia in TX says:

    My last reply on that topic in the same blog (after stewing about it for a couple of hours!):

    "Case in point about my friends…the "1%" you don't want me to talk about.

    In thinking about this, knowing that people come back with "well, we're a little tired of hearing about you love ________ people", well…..I guess I have to say I don't care what you think. I've been thinking about my friends in the last hour or so while reflecting on this discussion, the 1% YOU don't want me to talk about, and I'm done leaving them high and dry just to protect whether I feel I've annoyed you or not.

    I have a new acquaintance named Lloyd Marcus. Mr. Marcus is a singer and songwriter and very talented. He recently wrote an article titled "Black Conservatives: Crucified by the Left, Ignored by the Right!" Do you know why he feels ignored by the Right? It's because any time people "on the right" call attention to their existence (black conservatives in general), it is thrown back at us that we're just holding them in tokens…often not in so many words, but that is the sentiment. So they're not acknowledged at all. So I'm done protecting what you may think of ME…it would be selfish of me not to point out that that whole attitude, on my side and on your side, is very, very unfair to them."

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t this supposed the era of post-racialism? Robert Reich (Obama's Economic Advisor) apparently didn’t get that message. In his appearance before Congress on structuring the stimulus plan on January 7th, Reich suggested that the package discriminate against white male workers:

  5. Chuck in San Diego says:

    What Dilbert (Scott Adams) has to say about statistics…..

    Dilbert: I didn't have any accurate numbers so I just made up this one.

    Dilbert: Studies have shown that accurate numbers aren't any more usefule than the ones you make up.

    Question: How many Studies showed that?

    Dilbert: Eighty-seven

  6. Anonymous says:

    87% of all statistics are made up on the spot

  7. Chuck in San Diego says:

    75.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

    They're also 93.7% more believable if they include a decimal point.


    Putting twelve zeros after a number renders it incomprehensible, and thus of no concern.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Reverse discrimination, and we all know which way is "reverse", is a difficult topic to deal with. In fact, the Akron Police Department is at odds with it right now:

  10. Rix says:

    I am sorry that I have to to pee on your parade yet again. It is about time you understand that Obama's poll numbers are of very little consequence. He believes that his election team cracked the formula for winning and that formula has very little to do with electorate's approval. All the components of vote bending were tested in 2008 and found working like a Swiss watch:

    – outfinancing opponents using union funds, taxpayer money and foreign "donations",
    – orchestrating smear campaigns in the MSM and "independent" media;
    – outlawyering opponents, as well as burying them in bogus ethics complaints;
    – massive registration and voting fraud, including but not limited to multiple voting, out of state voting, illegal aliens voting and rigging voting machines;
    – intimidation of voters, disappearance of voting rolls, convenient "loss" of military votes, etc.

    There are also methods that have not yet been tried en masse but will undoubtedly be employed come next election cycle: media sabotage and/or refusal to take infomercials, quid pro quo vote buying and possibly even "unfortunate accidents" that Chicago is so famous for. Add to that: 1) four years' worth of thoroughly brainwashed school graduates, 2) a million or so illegals and "relatives" that will receive citizenship, 3) a million or two of new governmental jobs that will be opened in key battleground states, 4) rapid natural growth of Black and Hispanic population sectors.

    If you really believe that the "sword of truth" can cut through that huge steaming pile of change, you are a very, very religious person. Here is a piece of great play "Devil's Disciple" by Bernhard Shaw that you may find very applicable:

    God may soften Major Swindon's heart.

    ANDERSON [contemptuously]
    Let him, then. I am not God; and I must go to work another way.

  11. Gail B says:

    My civil engineer friend (retired) said that Hannity on Fox News was showing the charts as I read your piece to him!

    Have to agree with every point you made, and please thank Ryan Best for the research he did, to save your time.

  12. Gail B says:

    (Did not wait to see if it took my comment or not. If not, here's the thought again.)

    People are talking where they work about the Obama administration's proposals to make sure they don't miss out on something, but they are also listening with a heads-up about how all this is going to be paid for. They know the money has to come from somewhere, and they understand "inflation."

    They know there are people protesting taxes, and they know there are a lot of TEA Parties.

    People are wondering how things in Congress will affect their cost of living, if it will raise their taxes, etc.

    A growing number of people are not as enchanted with Obama as they once were, from what I've been hearing from more than one place. The disapproval is such that it has caused conversations at home about what has been said at work by — well, those who would not be expected to disapprove of anything Obama said or did.

    This tells me that the robo calls are more accurate, as Ryan discovered and as you said, than the live polls.

  13. Celia in TX says:

    I know their team has this down to a science, but my prayer is that he underestimated his opposition.

  14. PALACE GUARD says:

    When the numbers hit the point that absolutely nobody wants this guy in there anymore, does that then put the Secret Service in the unenviable position of being his Republican Guard, kinda like Saddam's?


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