Monday, May 08, 2006

Presidential Approval Ratings

The issue of approval ratings is one that has bothered me for some time. Governing by approval ratings is a terrible idea. We are witnessing its effects in the miserable way that Congress has tackled immigration, energy prices, and other issues.

Apparently President Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low of 31%, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll. What most of these stories don't mention is that Congress' approval rating is often even lower. The President's low approval ratings are important when it comes to the 2006 Congressional elections, but only to a point. What those approval ratings say to me, particularly when coupled with the Congressional ratings, is that Americans are generally unsatisfied with politics, regardless of the party.

Additionally, Congressional elections have a local focus, and poll respondents may be unsatisfied with Congress in general, but satisfied with their local representative. The power of incumbents is significant, particularly in the House.

Anyway, I hate approval polls. Beyond the vagaries of statistics and how the questions are posed, I think they are harmful to our poltical process.


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