Why is Rasmussen Skewing Pawlenty's Numbers?
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 09:39:55 AM EDT
I was reading through the first two questions of the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll of Minnesota voters, and something stood out to me. Take a look:
* How would you rate the job Tim Pawlenty has been doing as Governor... do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job she's been doing?
26% Strongly approve
30% Somewhat approve
13% Somewhat disapprove
30% Strongly disapprove
1% Not sure
2* How would you rate the way that Al Franken is performing his role as Senator....excellent good fair or poor?
6% Not sure
Notice a difference between the two questions? How Rasmussen uses an equally weighted question to gauge the approval rating of Republican Tim Pawlenty but an unevenly weighted question that, as I have written before, lumps the ambivalent response of "fair" into the disapproval column to gauge the approval rating of Democrat Al Franken (as it also does subsequently in the poll for Democrat Amy Klobuchar).
As Pollster.com has detailed in the past, the numbers on this differently weighted question lump in some voters approving of a particular politician into the disapproval camp. As the folks at Pollster.com explain regarding the case of former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, "Not only was her approval score higher than excellent-good combined, but some of the 'fair' raters also said 'approve' when asked. Moreover, when asked reasons for rating Byrne the way they did, we got answers like 'doing a pretty fair job' from those rating her both 'fair' and 'approve'."
So why is Rasmussen using two different metrics -- one, which tends to find higher approval ratings, for the Republican; another, which tends to find lower approval ratings, for the Democrat?
Update [2009-9-22 23:59:28 by Jonathan Singer]: Another good point from MyDD reader Palli -- in Rasmussen's eyes Pawlenty is "doing" a job while Franken is "performing" a "role".