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There Are Serious Problems With Zogby, Trump’s New Favorite Poll… [Analysis]

President Donald Trump is known for pushing or highlighting only those polls that put him in a good light, and rejecting the ones that say he’s got a net approval rating in the negatives.

Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images

Trump continued the habit on Tuesday evening, tweeting about a questionable poll from Zogby demonstrating his approval rating is at 51 percent. “It is amazing that I can be at 51% with Zogby when the Fake & Corrupt News is almost 100% against me,” Trump wrote.

Oddly, he concluded his tweet with a pat-on-the-back…for himself. “Great job Mr. President!” he said.

So are Trump’s complaints valid? Not exactly. First, the negative reporting he calls “fake” is, in fact, based in truth. It’s common knowledge by now that when Trump says “fake,” it’s merely a code-word for “something I don’t like.” The media he calls “fake” is, in fact, simply disliked by the commander-in-chief.

Secondly, the poll that Trump is citing isn’t a reliable measure for how the American people feel about him.

Zogby is not really seen as a legitimate poll by those who study such measures in general. One of the main reasons for that is that the company doesn’t release to the public its own methods on how it conducted their polling for many of its releases. Transparency is a big deal for most polls, and even the Trump-friendly Rasmussen let’s people see how they conduct themselves.

Zogby, not so much.

“Any poll where they don’t provide detailed methodological information should actually be ignored,” Rutgers political science professor David Redlawsk once quipped about the company, The Independent reported.

Another reason people-in-the-know about polls don’t trust Zogby is that it has historically gotten it wrong many times over. In 2009, pollster Nate Silver, who runs FiveThirtyEight.com, wrote a scathing piece against the polling outfit, which reported Barack Obama with a 50 percent approval rating in March of 2009, when his average polling numbers were close to 10 points higher than that. (Zogby also got wrong the California primary in 2008, predicting Obama would beat Hillary Clinton by 13 points, when he lost to her by 9 points).

Within the title of his screed against Zogby, Silver called it “the worst poll in the world” for its misuse of data and the unscientific ways the company polled respondents itself.

We can also look at today’s polls and see that Zogby appears to be a major outlier. The RealClearPolitics average of polls presently shows Trump with a net approval rating of -10.4 percent. That includes a Rasmussen poll, which Trump also frequently cites, showing him under, with a -4 net rating.

Trump supporters will undoubtedly back the president, and his preference for Zogby’s polling. However, we should consider applying the tenets of Occam’s Razor, and ask ourselves, which is the most likely of scenarios:

  • That this singular poll, which has historically been wrong in the past and doesn’t share how it works with the public, is the only true indicator of how people view Trump’s job performance?
  • Or, that Zogby is wrong, like it has been before, and Trump is merely trying to inflate his ego, or appear more liked than he really is?

To believe the Zogby poll, you’d have to ignore every other major poll in the nation right now that’s saying the complete opposite — and also ignore Zogby’s disastrous history of predicting electoral outcomes. Indeed, you’d have to have a desperate mindset in order to overlook those two things.

Which, perhaps, is why Trump himself believes the poll, seemingly more than anyone else.



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