February 8, 2010

Obama's Tipping Point

I've been pouring over Rasmussen's latest Presidential Approval ratings trying to find the tipping point for the President - the point of no return for his job approval. I think I've figured it out.

If you look at Rasmussen's raw data 'feed' on Obama, there's a wealth of historical data for trending. Rasmussen has the added advantage of tracking likely voters as opposed to registered voters or all adults. So while Gallup may have a better pulse on the overall mood of the country, Rasmussen's numbers matter where it counts - on election days.

Back to my point - looking at Rasmussen's data, something struck me about the data for December 22nd, 2009. The number of strong disapprovals actually exceeded the number of total approvals, by 2% on that day. That would sure seem like a tipping point to me. The people who strongly disapprove of the President's job, exceed the number who either strongly approve or only slightly approve of his job. That's powerful.

But the number didn't stay that way - it didn't really tip. What happened? My theory is that there was some statistical noise in there. If you look at the polling for the two days before and the two days after, the numbers were better for Obama leading up to and following that point. Either the trend was in the process of troughing and turning around, or that date was slightly overstated. If the former case is true, then the conditions for a tipping point in Obama's ratings must be more robust than just a single point of data on one day, or in the latter case, well, the same can be said.

With the President yesterday flirting again with that point I'm going to postulate the following for future reference;
If the President's Strong Disapproval exceeds his entire approval ratings again, and the number is sustained by 3 days or more he will have reached a tipping point. Let me add one more condition - his Strong Disapproval must also exceed 47%, 1% higher than his highest Strong Disapproval to date (which, perhaps not coincidentally, occured on December 22nd).
If the President reaches that tipping point I don't see any recovery in his polling numbers as being possible.

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