Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We hereby retract our April 28 editorial “Barack’s in the basement” because we misapplied several polling comparisons of various presidents after their first 100 days in office.

The point of our editorial was that various establishment media outlets were overstating President Obama’s popularity. We continue to believe that, in terms of the tone of coverage, the point is valid. However, for data establishing that point, we followed George Mason University professor Judith Apter Klinghoffer’s analysis and compared Gallup polling data for elected presidents going back to President Nixon. We did our own analysis but failed to see that some of the polls we were using did not lend themselves to direct intercomparisons.

Most importantly, we used figures for overall “approval” ratings for former President George W. Bush - 62 percent - and compared them to the ratings of “excellent” or “good” for Mr. Obama, which combined were 56 percent. However, when asked the same question - approve or disapprove - for Mr. Obama for the same three days of his first term, April 20-22, his rating actually was 65 percent, thus putting him above rather than below Mr. Bush.

In short, even if our overall figures did not compare oranges to something almost entirely different like apples, we did at least do something like comparing oranges to tangerines. But close doesn’t cut it in this business. We regret the errors.

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