Reporters Jeff Zeleny and Dalia Sussman broke down the latest New York Times/CBS News poll Thursday and found Obama's favorable ratings holding steady, but support for his actual policies in the red: "Obama Poll Sees Doubt On Budget And Health Care- Overall Support High."
Usually the team of Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee handle the poll stories, and usually Obama comes off looking great. Perhaps the switch to Zeleny and Sussman helps explains why today's off-lead poll story is less laudatory of Obama, although that might also be a recognition that his numbers aren't quite as favorable this time around.
One thing hasn't changed: The poll's pro-Democrat "weighting" continues. There were complaints in early April, the last time CBS News and the Times teamed up for a poll, that the poll's "weighting" process produced far more self-identified Democrat than Republican respondents, which would certainly tilt the paper's findings to the left. In that last poll, NYT/CBS managed to turn a eight-point raw Democratic advantage of respondents (35%-27%) into a sixteen-point margin (39%-23%) through its mysterious weighting process. "Weighting" itself is standard polling practice, but the April gap was wide enough to draw questions of pro-Democratic favoritism.
This time around, the gap between the official number and the raw numbers is far wider.
The raw figures for the latest poll showed a small gap of two points (34%-32% Democrats over Republicans). That two-point spread somehow became a yawning 14 points (38%-24% Democrats over Republicans) after the weighting.
The Times poll doesn't break out the raw figures, but CBS does, on the last page of the CBS poll release.
First, the raw numbers: Out of 895 total poll respondents, 310 described themselves as independents, 301 Democrats, and 284 Republicans. That broke down as 34% independents, 34% Democrats, and 32% Republicans, just a two-point gap between the parties.
Those raw figures were then whisked away into the poll kitchen, the secret "weighting" ingredients were added, and the recipe came out puffed up with far more Democrats: 345 Independents, 339 Democrats, and 211 Republicans. That broke down into the stark 14-point gap between Democrats (38%) and Republicans (24%) that the Times cited, with independents at 38%.
The actual poll? As Zeleny's story indicated, the Times did find Americans mostly disapproved of his handling of efforts to save Chrysler and General Motors and had made no impact on helping the economy.
A posting at CBS.com emphasizedhow support for gay marriage dipped back to 33% in the current poll, after peaking at 42% in April. The Times story was silent on the dip in support for gay marriage but found time to note that approval for the Republican Party was "the lowest rating ever in a New York Times/CBS News poll." That represents a three-point drop from the last NYT/CBS poll, from 31% favorable to 28% unfavorable.