February 09, 2010

Steve Pomper

Polls Show Fickle Americans

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So, the President gives a State of the Union speech that by many accounts was mediocre at best and rambling, whiny, and bordering on nasty at worst. Regardless of this flat performance, opinion polls following the speech showed up to a four-point “up tick” in the President’s approval numbers. Excuse me?


What exactly changed after that speech? I’m perpetually amazed by polls, even the good ones. I’m not saying they’re not accurate, certain polls, Gallup, Zogby, Rassmussen to name a few have been quite accurate. What I have to ask is, who are these people answering the polls, whose opinions seem to shift with the winds as easily as a dandelion seed drifts in the softest of breezes.


Are Americans really that fickle? Are we really so swayed by pretty, or in this case, plain Jane words? I wondered aloud last summer when the President’s many international faux pas and some outright embarrassing bungles failed to result in more disapproval from the American people. I questioned if people were so invested in their presidential choice that they were willing to suspend their disappointment and cling to their—well—hope.


Whether it was because of his charm, his relative youth, his being the first black president, whatever; people seem to be, and I’m guessing based on these latest and other polls, the biggest benefit of the doubt I’ve ever heard given to any president.


Well, it’s not unusual for the President to get some “up tick” in polls immediately following a State of the Union speech. But a point or two is more the norm, unless he hits it out of the ball park; in this case, it was a swing and a miss, but some people are apparently deciding that’s just as good.  


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