The editor in chief of the Gallup Poll on Tuesday defended the value of opinion polls in general and explained away White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' earlier criticism of Gallup's latest presidential poll as a reaction "to the fact that the president's approval numbers are not stable."
The Gallup report Monday showed President Obama's approval rating at 47 percent, the lowest mark yet for his presidency.
Mr. Gibbs, speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, appeared irked by the poll, saying, “I am sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that.” He continued: “I don’t put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it.”
Seen this before
“It’s not unusual for politicians to react to polls," he wrote. "I’ve certainly seen it many times over the years, particularly when elected representatives or candidates are confronted with poll results they don’t like.”
Newport said in his blog he is “certain Gibbs didn’t intend to impugn the value of presidential job approval polls in general. It appears he was reacting more to the fact that the president’s approval numbers are not stable, but, in fact, in a period of some change. More specifically, Gibbs was reacting to our report Monday highlighting the fact that, while there was a short-term positive uptick in Obama’s job approval ratings after his Afghanistan speech last week, his ratings through the weekend fell back.”
Letting the people speak
The Gallup executive also defended the role of polls in a democracy. “Keeping tabs on the people’s views of their elected representatives between elections is vitally important – and something in which the people of the country are demonstrably interested,” he said.
In addition to his role with the Gallup organization, Newport is also president-elect of the American Association for Public Opinion research, America’s largest association of public opinion/polling professionals.
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