NYT Trumpets Obama Triumphs in Democrat-Heavy Poll

Are there really 67% more Democrats than Republicans out there? A Times/CBS poll assumes there are.

There was lots of bad news for the GOP in the newest CBS/New York Times poll, the results of which were trumpeted in Tuesday's lead story slot by Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee, "Poll Finds New Optimism on Economy Since Inauguration." The story came with a large front-page graph showing how people think "the country is going in the right direction."

But are the numbers tilted unfairly toward the Democrats? Are there really 67% more Democrats out there than Republicans, as the poll's demographic breakdown indicates?

Americans have grown more optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country in the 11 weeks since President Obama was inaugurated, suggesting that he is enjoying some success in his critical task of rebuilding the nation's confidence, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

These sometimes turbulent weeks - marked by new initiatives by Mr. Obama, attacks by Republicans and more than a few missteps by the White House - do not appear to have hurt the president. Americans said they approved of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy, foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan; fully two-thirds said they approved of his overall job performance.

By contrast, just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.

It is not unusual for new presidents to enjoy a period of public support. Still, the durability of Mr. Obama's support contrasts with that of some of his predecessors at the same point in their terms. It is also striking at a time when anxiety has gripped households across the country and Mr. Obama has alternately sought to rally Americans' spirits and warn against economic collapse as he seeks Congressional support for his programs.

The demographic breakdown of poll respondents at the end of the poll show a huge gap between the parties:

39% Democrats

23% Republicans

30% Independents

Intriguingly, the last page of theCBS copy of the poll, but not the Times', breaks out the demographic numbers further, showing the "weighted" sample (which is where the poll got the 39%-23% breakdown) but also showing the "unweighted," raw number sample (showing the Democrats with a more modest 35%-26.5% lead in respondents).

The secret "weighting" ingredients used by the Times and CBS somehow managed to double the lead of Democratic respondents from the raw 8.5 points to a yawning 16 points. The traditional gap for CBS-NYT polls is around nine points in favor of the Democrats.

Another indication of possible over-sampling of Democrats: Among respondents who voted, Obama won their presidential vote by a massive 18 percentage points over John McCain, 43%-25%. The actual popular vote result was 53%-46% in favor of Obama, only a seven-point win.

Digging into the actual questions from the poll, one notices the Times and CBS resurrected a left-wing question it hasn't asked in a poll since July 2002:

36. Do you think big business has too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence on the Republican party?

37. Do you think big business has too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence on the Democratic party?

More black-and-white left-wingery:

42. Do you think Barack Obama cares more about protecting the interests of ordinary working people or cares more about protecting the interests of large corporations?

What about capitalists who think that large corporations are more often than not beneficial to the interests of working people (for one thing, they provide jobs)? The poll doesn't offer that as a choice - you're either for the people or for "the man."

The poll contained a sliver of good news for Republicans that didn't make Nagourney's story:

64. "How would you say things are going for the U.S. in its efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq? Would you say things are going very well, somewhat well, somewhat badly, or very badly?"

Twelve percent of respondents now think Iraq is going very well, a historic high for that stat. Another 50% say its going "somewhat well," 23% say somewhat badly, and only 7% say very badly. Seven percent is the lowest that last figure has been since the first question was first asked in a CBS-only poll in May 2003.