Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fact-checking the March 16 news shows

Have President Barack Obama's poll numbers turned a corner?

Meet the Press moderator David Gregory said Sunday that Obama's approval number remained at 41 percent, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. That's low, but not historically dismal.

Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer offered a brighter outlook in response. (It's no shock that he'd try.)

"Public polls, they're all over the map," Pfeiffer told Gregory. But, Pfeiffer said, "We're working our way back. If you look at the aggregate of public polling, we've gained 3 points in the last couple months."

A White House spokesman pointed us to Real Clear Politics, a political website that aggregates polling data and calculates an average.

While the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released last week has Obama hitting a new low with an approval rating of 41 percent, the Real Clear Politics average had Obama bottom out in December with an aggregate approval rating of 39.8 percent.

On March 17, Obama's aggregate poll numbers put his approval rating at 42.9 percent. That accounts for the 3-point jump that Pfeiffer claimed.

The recent "surge" seems to be skewed largely by outlier polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports and Bloomberg.

In a survey from March 13-15, Rasmussen Reports said 49 percent of Americans approve of Obama, while 50 percent disapprove, a statistical dead heat. Bloomberg between March 7-10 found an even split among those surveyed ­–­ 48 percent both approved and disapproved of Obama. That's a six-point improvement from December.

Other poll aggregation methods, meanwhile, show much more modest gains by the president.

Huffington Post, for example, tracks 88 polls and takes a snapshot of the daily tracking polls from Gallup and Rasmussen every three days. According to their model, Obama's aggregate approval rating was 42.5 percent on Dec. 2 (his low point) and has jumped just a bit to 43.3 percent. That's less than 1 percentage point, a considerably smaller improvement than Real Clear Politics' average.

Charles Franklin, co-founder of pollster.com and director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee, walked us through his own aggregation of Obama's poll numbers.

According to Franklin, Obama's low point came Dec. 2 when he registered an approval rating of 41.98 percent. He currently estimates the number at 44.38, a gain of about 2.4 percentage points.

So all three poll averages show Obama's low point actually came in early December, but his bounceback varies depending on the methodology.

"There are various ways of 'averaging' or aggregating polls to estimate trends," Franklin said. "My bottom line: There has been some gain, though it appears to be not as large as 3 points when using all available polls and a standard trend estimate. There may be a specific pollster you could find that has shown a 3 point gain, but that is cherry-picking the one with a larger gain, rather than using all the polls as I and HuffPost do."

On Pfeiffer's claim, we said: Mostly True.

On ABC's This Week, a liberal pundit also turned to poll numbers to help make her point.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, argued that Democrats should take advantage of what she called a populist moment.

"The majority support (raising) the minimum wage," she said. "More fairness, taking on a rigged system that's working against working people."

Vanden Heuvel read the polls correctly, but it's unclear if the issue ultimately will sway any elections. Still, her claim rates as True.

The latest results from a Bloomberg poll show 69 percent of the public supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over the next three years. A CBS/New York Times poll in February found 65 percent support for raising the minimum wage.

But polls also suggest that it's not necessarily a high priority for many Americans.

A February Gallup poll found just 2 percent of respondents said wages were the most important issue facing the country. A Quinnipiac University poll in January had very similar results. In an open-ended question about the nation's top priority for 2014, 1 percent of respondents mentioned the minimum wage, while 16 percent said jobs and unemployment, 15 percent said the economy in general, and 18 percent said health care.

Staff writers Steve Contorno and Jon Greenberg contributed to this report. Aaron Sharockman is editor of PunditFact.com.

The statement

Says President Barack Obama's approval rating "gained 3 points in the last couple months."

Dan Pfeiffer, in comments on Meet the Press

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly True

One website that aggregates polling data puts Obama's gains at about 3 percentage points. But others show smaller improvements in Obama's numbers. We rate the statement Mostly True.

The statement

"The majority support (raising) the minimum wage."

Katrina vanden Heuvel, in comments on This Week

PunditFact ruling: True

The polls confirm it. About two-thirds of the public consistently say boosting the minimum wage to $10.10 is a good idea and as many as a half of all voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who backs that increase. We rate this statement True.

Fact-checking the March 16 news shows 03/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii

    Military

    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.