Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Breaking News

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
Community News Network
  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating