LePage approval: Lower in all non-Rasmussen polls (w/update)

My Bangor Daily News blogging colleague Matt Gagnon, a Republican strategist, has gotten very excited about a Rasmussen poll showing Gov. LePage with a 47% approval rating. He says it’s a good basis for a re-election effort.

To his credit, Gagnon notes that this new Rasmussen number is well out of the range of other polls which had “approvals of 36%40%43%, and 41%.”

The two polls taken after those – and just before the Rasmussen one Gagnon touts – had LePage’s approval at 37% and 39%.

Gagnon credits Rasmussen as reasonably accurate and cites Nate Silver of the New York Times for his June 2012 analysis of the skew of different pollsters.

However, Silver wrote about Rasmussen earlier today and this is what he said:

What to think of the Rasmussen poll? Their surveys usually have a Republican lean, but it seems to have gotten stronger in the last few weeks. It has also been stronger in some years than others. Rasmussen got reasonably good results in years like 2006 and 2008 when their polls were close to the consensus. However, their polls were the least accurate of the major polling firms in 2010, when they had an especially strong Republican house-effect. The same was true in 2000, when they had a three- or four-point statistical bias toward Republican candidates.

One issue with Rasmussen polls is that it takes the data it’s collected and reweights it based on party identification.  This is not the norm for pollsters and is a problem because party identification changes.  In the last few months, Republican party id has dropped.

Typically one should look at polling aggregations rather than cherrypicking one poll.

And focusing on one poll is an especially bad practice when it has nonstandard methods that are especially problematic precisely when one party has been rapidly losing support.

Further polls will clarify Gov. LePage’s approval-disapproval numbers.

Also note: Regarding the presidential race, some Republicans have claimed the polls are all skewed because they are too many Democrats. They overlook the fluidity of party identification and the drop in the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans. One pro-Romney individual says he’s “unskewed” the polls and finds Romney is ahead, in a practice that, as one analyst puts it, “is, statistically speaking, bunk.”

Update: A look at the graph and chart of Gov. LePage’s approval numbers at the Talking Points Memo Poll Tracker (a great site, by the way) shows that Rasmussen’s approval numbers are more different than its disapproval numbers, when compared to the two most recent polls preceding it. Rasmussen also has fewer undecided individuals, something likely to do with the way it asks its approval question.

  • Approve 47% – Disapprove 51% – Rasmussen
  • Approve 37% – Disapprove 52% – Public Policy Polling
  • Approve 39% – Disapprove 54% – Maine People’s Resource Center

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.