Republicans in Minnesota have long criticized the Star Tribune’s Minnesota poll for inaccuracy — against the protestations of DFLers and the Star Tribune — but we’re wondering today how they feel about this headline:
Accurate? Inaccurate? Who knows? But at the very least it’s somewhat misleading. Why? Because the high point of the Obama presidency was in April, according to the poll, when Obama’s popularity hit 63%. How hard is it to have high popularity in your first months in office? Not hard at all, assuming tanks aren’t involved.
But last November, Obama’s popularity rating — as measured by election results — was only 53% in Minnesota.
Disappointingly — and, really, unacceptably — the Minnesota Poll doesn’t make the questions asked or the breakdown available online. Heck, even the methodology of the poll isn’t provided.
We know, for example, that health care insurance reform — it’s not really health care reform — is the main reason for the decline in popularity. But we don’t know what Minnesotans expected. Obama ran on several platforms, including health care insurance reform. What did people think that meant way back then?
People are funny — and fickle.
For example, President George Bush’s job approval rating — as measured by an MPR poll — six months after he took office — was 53 percent, statistically equal to Obama’s current rating. But an October 2001 survey showed his job approval rating at 76 percent.
What changed? He launched attacks on Afghanistan in response to 9/11.
The poll showed people also favored expanding federal powers to wiretap, significant support for detaining Muslims without charges, and support for requiring us all to carry national ID cards. All things that would sink a job approval rating now. And the very thing that propelled Bush’s job approval numbers then, is an anchor on Obama’s now.
So perhaps the most important question in these polls of Minnesotans is: What do you want? Job approval ratings reflect a politician’s ability to (a) figure it out and (b) adjust their actions to give it to you.
Clearly, Obama’s concept of change is that (b) isn’t part of his game. And while people might nod their heads that they want leaders not to bend to the polls, in practice that’s exactly what we want.