Sarah Palin’s approval rating dropped recently. How much? Well, that may be a matter of some discussion.
The Political Wire blog puts it like this:
Gov. Sarah Palin’s favorable/unfavorable ratings have suffered a stunning 21 point collapse in just one week, according to Research 2000 polling. Last week, 52% approved and 35% disapproved of the GOP vice presidential nominee (+17 net). This week, 42% approved and 46% disapprove (-4 net).
I’m certainly among those who would have been in the 35% last week and the 46% this week if anyone had bothered to poll me. But I have an issue with that “21 point collapse” figure. The problem is that while we are given poll percentages as our basic data, the net points, as they are called, are from a different scale. If someone had a 100% approval rating on one poll and somehow completely disgraced themselves and earned a 100% disapproval rating on the next, the net points tally would be -200. The net points count every person’s opinion twice, as it were, and thus don’t correspond to how the casual reader will first take the message that Sarah Palin’s approval rating took a 21 point tumble. At least, I was expecting far more dramatic changes in the percentage scores based on that first number presented.
How could the original statement be altered to make it correct? That’s rather simple.
Gov. Sarah Palin’s favorable/unfavorable ratings have suffered a stunning 21 out of 200 possible net point collapse in just one week, according to Research 2000 polling. Last week, 52% approved and 35% disapproved of the GOP vice presidential nominee (+17 net). This week, 42% approved and 46% disapprove (-4 net).
As it is, based on the percentage numbers, the net change from one week to the next was that 10% of the poll respondents became disapprovers of Palin, and apparently 1% of the poll respondents undecided about whether to approve or disapprove of Palin shifted to disapproving of her, though that last is beneath the usual stated resolution of such polling techniques and should not be relied on. But we don’t need smoky, mirrory math to describe that. One can find a real number that comes close to the 21 net points number, and that is in what proportion of Palin’s former approvers have jumped ship to disapproving of her: that’s a loss of 19% of Palin’s former approvers, as 10/52*100. That is a serious alteration of the political landscape. We could even call it stunning and not be relying on a technique illuminated in the classic, “How to Lie with Statistics”.