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Making Stuff Up

E.J. Dionne bemoans the split in the president’s support between progressives and moderates. He seems to think the country is far to the left of the “moderates” in Congress and that most voters are just fine with gambits like the public option for health care. In making his case, he asserts: “His approval has stayed at 55 percent to 65 percent among independents.” Actually, that is not so.

A quick trip over to Pollster.com tells us that the average polling for independents is only 50.5% approval/41.1% disapproval. You have to go back to mid-June to find a poll showing Independents’ approval at 65%. Virtually all the polls listed in the last month, including some by Democratic pollsters, show Independents’ approval of Obama ranging between 46% and 56%. Moreover, the handy chart shows a significant and steady decline in Independents’ support for the president and an equally significant and steady increase in disapproval. Obama’s approval ratings among Independents haven’t “stayed” at the exalted level Dionne suggests; they are plummeting.

This is no small error by Dionne. It essentially undercuts Dionne’s entire argument, which is that Republicans’ attacks on the president’s agenda put the GOP far outside the mainstream of opinion and isolated its appeal to only hardcore partisan Republicans.

Funny, but just yesterday the Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, was complaining that the downsizing of copy editors at the Post has resulted in an uptick in errors, mistakes, and factual inaccuracies on the pages of the Post. (“If readers can’t rely on our accuracy, why should they even pick up the paper?”) Well, perhaps if they had adequate staffing, someone could have pointed out to Dionne that the premise of his column is simply wrong. Really, if readers can’t rely on the accuracy of Dionne’s factual representations, why should they even read his column?



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