McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Community News Network

July 2, 2014

Best president? Worst president? Don't read too much into those polls

A Quinnipiac poll that is getting some attention today finds that "Obama is first as worst president since World War II."

Ignore those polls!

This new Quinnipiac poll does provide further evidence that President Barack Obama's mild rally that began late last year has stalled or reversed. He's a at 40 percent approval in this survey. More importantly, the HuffPollster average has him at 44 percent. Their "less smoothing" version, which is more sensitive to recent changes, has him a bit below 43 percent. Those aren't strong numbers.

But the questions about who are the best and worst post-WWII presidents are useless.

What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.

I'll explain. On "best president," Republicans are unified around Ronald Reagan: 66 percent pick him, with no one else getting more than 6 percent. Republicans are similarly in agreement on "worst president," with Obama clobbering Jimmy Carter, 63 percent to 14 percent, and no one else better than 5 percent.

Democrats, however, have a competitive race for best president: Bill Clinton, at 34 percent, John Kennedy and Obama, at 18 percent. For worst president, Democrats again split between George W. Bush, at 54 percent, and Richard Nixon, at 20 percent.

With Republicans united and Democrats split, the "winners" simply reflect that Republican unity, so Reagan wins "best" and Obama "worst." That would be the case even if Obama was quite a bit more popular.

This might reflect more efficient Republican transmission of talking points from elites to the rank-and-file. But it might just as well reflect the happenstances of history. Democrats have several reasonable candidates to choose from. Clinton and Kennedy were very popular; Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman had impressive accomplishments, along with the wars that made each unpopular while in office.

Republicans? They're not going to choose Richard Nixon or, most likely, Gerald Ford. Both Bushes were unpopular while in office, and don't really have the historical stature to overcome that. Dwight Eisenhower was an excellent president, but his views were very removed from contemporary mainstream conservatism, and at any rate the 1950s are ancient history to most respondents. Of course they'll pick Reagan. And it's no surprise that they choose the current occupant of the Oval Office over long-gone Carter, either, let alone the popular Clinton.

All of that should work out the way it has without any Fox News prompting.

And none of it tells us anything interesting about public opinion of recent presidents. For example, do Republicans ignore Ike because he isn't conservative, because his presidency was too far in the past, or because they just like Reagan better? We can't even begin to guess from these data. The comparison questions just don't work.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.