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Measuring Presidential Approval: Obama’s Leadership & Historical Comparison

Jul 4, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 4, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

You are to take your own political poll to measure President Obama’s Approval Rating. Your target population is domestic undergraduate Saint Louis University students. Your sample size will be 20. Your assignment is to design a sampling method that is unbiased and representative. Remember that as an interviewer you need to be a neutral “tape recorder” for your subjects, no matter what your personal political views are. Here is the exact wording of the question that you need to ask:

“Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?”


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It’s important that everyone use the same question so we can compare results. Don’t worry if your numbers stray from the 40’s. We will expect some outliers due to random variation. Write up your sampling method and list the results for your survey of 20 Saint Louis University Students. Be ready to defend your sampling method for its ability to obtain a “representative” sample. Keep track of the gender of your respondents. Be sure to include the date or dates you took your sample. Give the President’s approval rating in percentage terms. Write a 300 words to describe your methods and results.

Visit the Gallup Presidential Approval Center to provide context for your estimate of Presidential Obama’s approval rating. Look at the tab entitled Historical Trend. How does Obama compare to the other Presidents? Write 250 words.


Instead of using just one poll, there is a movement to use multiple polls and average the results. In addition, even more complex methods have been developed that takes into account data beyond national polls. There is some reason to believe that averaging and some of the more complex methods could be more accurate than an individual poll, however, it is dependent on the quality of the polls that are used to construct the average. There is some controversy.

Read the following article by Nate Silver formerly of the New York Times. He has a website that is called 538. His methods are based on his work with baseball Sabermetrics. Ignore the datedness of the article and read it for the methodology. (He also has an excellent book that just came out called – The Signal and the Noise – if you are looking for a good read.) You may have to set up an account in the New York Times. You should be able to get this article for free.

What methods and data does he use in addition to national polls. Write a 200 word analysis summarizing his methods.

In addition, visit the website RealClearPolitics and investigate their methods. They are a poll aggregator or averager. The person who runs this website is a “conservative.”


Write a 250 word analysis summarizing their methods. You may have to dig further.

Do you think we can trust 538 since it is housed in a “liberal” newspaper like the New York Times? Why or why not? Can you trust Realclearpolitics since it is run by a “conservative?” Why or why not? Construct an argument (which was referenced at the University of Chicago website on the difference between High School and College Writing) about the trustworthiness of these two entities. (Compare and contrast.) Write a 250 word analysis. Remember – College Writing!!




Most Americans trust President Obama but are unsure of his leadership style. In the approval poll conducted by Gallup Presidential Approval Center, 47 percent of Americans believed that the President is honest while 48 percent believed that he understood American problems. Thirty-nine percent believe in his leadership style, saying that he has the ability to manage the government effectively. Another 39 percent believe that Obama is a strong and decisive leader and is in a good position to solve the US problems. By September 2015, the job approval ratings of President Obama went down and were at 52 percent. This approval is 4 percent lower than the 56 percent registered in the first quarter of the year. Since he was President, Obama’s approval rating among Union workers has been rising and falling. The lower approvals have been contributed by the free trade agreements the President has signed with Asian countries. The Labor Unions in the country oppose freed trade agreements since they say this will result in cheap imports resulting in loss of employment for American workers. The rise in the approval rating is because of the expansion of workers’ rights. Workers are now being paid for working overtime, and more and more are being employed permanently than on contractual basis. Most of those that approve Obama’s leaders are the Union members. The Union members have from time to time been in support of Obama’s leadership as President. Since there is declined in the approval rating, it means that the President is losing support from the Union members.

Compared to other Presidents, the approval rating of Obama is similar to that of George W. Bush. Both of these presidents have has a sixth-year polarized presidency. Obama’s sixth year in office is number ten among the most polarized in the previous six decades. Regarding job Approval for both Obama and Bush were similar and stood at 79 percent. Compared to Clinton who had 53 percent approval rating, Obama’s average approval stands at 43 percent. Other Presidents such as Nixon resigned in their sixth year in office, Eisenhower and Reagan had an approval rating of below 40 percent.

Is Obama Toast? Handicapping the 2012 Election by Nate Silver

The data Nate uses are from the economic performance and the opponent’s ideology. The data method is the three-factor model. Economic performance, especially in the fourth year, is a great determinant of the President’s re-election. In the last year of re-election is economic performance is improved voters are likely to forget and overlook their problems if the economy is headed in the right direction. Forecasting of the economy is not a good sign since they mislead voters.

Using the data from the opponent’s ideology, Americans have been predicted to vote using the referendum model where the only performance of the opponent matter. Using the median voter model the dogma of the candidates is central and no performance is evaluated. Both models are not reliable and for that reason, economic performance and approval rating are important determinants for re-election.

The three-factor model looks at the approval ratings together with the GDP growth. The model, however, does not take into consideration, for instance, the possibility of a third party candidate and the difference between voters. Each voter understands economic matters differently. The model, therefore, allows for any income. It is clear that the three-factor model has errors, it is, therefore, important to work on reducing these errors. We cannot trust the 538 even when it is said to be housed on a Liberal Newspaper. The opinions in the articles are the writers opinions are biased, for example in the article the writer predicted that Obama is most likely not to win his second term in office. This is false since the prediction did not come to term.

RealClearPolitics- http://www.realclearpolitics.com/?state=nwa

The data collection methods of RealClearPolitics [RCP] have been questioned from time to time. RCP uses the RCP average that is obtained from the mean of polling in two to three weeks. Polls are supposed to be non-partisan. Political preference has the ability to influence the methodology of a political poll. I would not tell whether the views expressed by RCP are conservative. This is because conservatives are of the view that we should let the intuitions of the state remain as they are. Therefore, we cannot trust RealClearPolitics. RCP for twelve years has been the top political average. Reading the website, however, I realize that the commentary is leaned towards conservative views.

The non-conservative views will only arise if they do not average all polls creating an incomplete data analysis. An example of inconsistency data is that of the nine national polls that indicated that RCP conducted over 12,000 interviews. The data analysis indicates a margin error sample that was too large. The averages were done using not all of the data collected from the respondents. Most of the results from the state are the same ones used in national polls. We cannot, therefore, rely on RCP data

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