Polling During Pandemics

Transcript from Episode 301 of the Beyond Social Media Show…or Listen:

David Erickson: So, there’s…there’s correcting facts, but then there’s interpreting facts. And this is–I ran across on Facebook, somebody on Facebook was chortling over the rise in approval numbers that Trump has been experiencing.

BL Ochman: Unbelievable.

David Erickson: And so he is…he’s gotten like 60%, upwards of 60% for his handling of the coronavirus crisis and has 47 to 49% approval.

But I saw this…this Twitter thread by Jason Johnson and Jason Johnson is a very smart political commentator. He’s an editor–maybe editor-in-chief, I don’t know–of The Root. But he…he’s a pollster.

And so he…he interpreted…he made a couple of points on the approval ratings and, and I’ll list them here so that you can kind of take these with a grain of salt.

First of all, most Americans aren’t online to get their…get their–aren’t online, don’t get their news online. They get their news locally. So most people watch the local news to get their, their their news. And as a result, they just see snippets. So they don’t actually know how bad Trump is doing. And they just assume that he’s doing his best, right?

So then this the second point, he says, is that polling during the during the coronavirus is going to be tricky for a while because reliable polls really use landline, cell phone, online surveys to get people.

But what happens when millions of people are locked at home? You get more responses from different populations.

So your results are going to be…going to be different as a result of just having a wider, wider audience than you typically get in polls. And so the pollsters are catching people that they normally wouldn’t, wouldn’t catch and that will impact those numbers.

The third point he makes is the reason Trump’s approval rating is up is a natural rally around the flag moment. During a moment of crisis where people naturally—the approval ratings of presidents go up during times of crisis, naturally. You saw this after 9/11 with Bush.

But put that in context; things are bad but they haven’t gotten apocalyptic yet. Things are going to get a lot worse and he says once that happens, his mini-boost will likely crater and stay there when people actually start–Oh my god, this is…this is a lot worse than I thought it was. And start paying more attention.

And so…so it was an interesting thread. We’ll put a link in the show notes for people to follow it. There’s a lot more to it than that thread. Those are the three main points he made which were interesting.

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