Oddly, the Times' story on the findings of the latest NYT-CBS News poll, by Adam Nagourney and Dalia Sussman, doesn't make the front page of Thursday's paper, but is instead buried on page 8 of the international section: "Poll Finds Support for Obama's Plan for Afghanistan Mixed With Skepticism."
Though this particular poll focuses heavily on questions specific to the war in Afghanistan, it also features the usual query on Obama's job approval - a number that has plummeted since the last NYT-CBS News poll on September 25, as the Times mentioned in paragraph three:
A bare majority of Americans support President Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but many are skeptical that the United States can count on Afghanistan as a partner in the fight or that the escalation would reduce the chances of a domestic terrorist attack, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
In the wake of the president's address last week explaining his decision, the poll found a 10 percentage point increase in public approval of Mr. Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan since last month, to 48 percent. But the shift reflects a twist on the political polarization that has marked much of Mr. Obama's first year in office: Republican and independent voters are rallying behind Mr. Obama as he presses for the troop escalation, while Democrats remain decidedly cool to his war plans.
The poll showed a steady slide in support for Mr. Obama as he approaches the end of his first year in office. His job approval rating has now hit 50 percent, the lowest yet in this poll; it was 68 percent at its peak in April. The percentage of Americans who approve of his handling of the economy has dropped to 47 percent from 54 percent in October. And 42 percent approve of the way he is handling health care, down five percentage points in the last few months.
In fact, Obama's job approval rating has fallen by six points and his disapproval rating risen by six since September: From a breakdown of 56%-33% approval-disapproval to a more modest 50%-39% approval-disapproval. (You can read the poll in .PDF format here.)
One interesting result not mentioned in the story or in an accompanying chart came on Question 91:
In order to pay for the additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan, do you think the money should come from a tax increase, spending cuts in other areas of government or should it be added to the budget deficit?
Respondents preferred spending cuts over tax increases by 53%-10%, with 19% favoring adding to the budget deficit. If the figures had been the other way around, one could easily imagine the Times pushing tax hikes.
The paper's notorious, mysterious "weighting" process for polls, which in the past has almost always resulted in a heavy preference toward Democratic respondents, was not as significant this time out. Still, the paper managed to boost the Democrat advantage in respondents from a "raw" figure of seven percentage points to a "cooked" figure of nine percentage points. (Ed Morrissey at Hot Air took the time to break the numbers into spreadsheet form.