The first poll of the new year, by CBS News, taken 1/1-3/07 finds approval of President Bush at 30%, with 63% disapproval. This is the lowest approval reading in any CBS News poll for this administration. The result also pulls the trend estimate down to 33.5, also a low for the administration. However, it is important to discount the trend estimate until more data are available. This is the first new poll in over two weeks and the very low CBS result standing by itself at the end of the time series is exerting an unusually strong influence on the trend estimate. Until more data for 2007 come in the trend estimate should be viewed with some skepticism. Prior to the addition of the CBS result, the trend estimate stood at 34.4%, an estimate supported by a substantial number of polls taken through 12/21/06. A reasonable guess is that the current standing is between 33.5 and 34.4, which is still near the low point for the administration, but not necessarily the very lowest well supported estimate.
The CBS News poll is also one that has recently been tracking well below the trend estimate. The figure below (also found on our Presidential approval page) shows how the CBS News/New York Times poll has compared to the trend estimate in the second term.
At about 4 points below trend, the CBS News poll is short of being a statistical outlier, especially once the typical CBS "house effect" of -2.06 is considered. This means that CBS/NYT polls are on average about 2 points lower in approval than the mean across all polls. Thus there is not clear evidence that the CBS poll should be discounted entirely, but the best bet would still be that approval is closer to 34% than it is to 30%.
Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.
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