A Recap of Katrina and Bush Approval

The comparison will be inevitable so here is my analysis of Katrina & Bush approval written 1 year post-Katrina. The impact will surprise.

The link to my post-Katrina analysis is here & includes links to posts written as the story developed in fall 2005.

In the chart, there are drops at Katrina & at the Scooter Libby indictment. Then Nov 11 marked a White House push in defense of the wars.

What will surprise most readers is the impact of Katrina was a 1.4 point drop in approval but no increase in the rate of decline.

Prior to Katrina approval was falling 1 point each 32.6 days so a loss of 1.4 points was the equivalent of 46 days of decline overnight.

But after Katrina, the rate of decline did not increase, continuing down about a point per month until the Libby indictment.

The combination of year-long downward trend, plus shocks due to Katrina & Libby (also Miers SCOTUS nomination) had big cumulative impact but the notion Katrina alone caused Bush to crater is incorrect. It cost him the equivalent of an extra month+ of decline, no small thing.

The botched Miers nomination hurt approval among Republicans, & Libby, added to woes that were apparent in the long term 1 pt/mo fall.

A president over 50% approval in January fell to 39% by early November. Katrina, Miers & Libby contributed to the fall, but only modestly.

Inevitably attention will focus on Trump’s handling of Harvey. The lesson of Katrina is the impact may be smaller than might be expected.

The link to my original post is here. http://politicalarithmetik.blogspot.com/2006/08/katrina-and-bush-one-year-later.html

 

Here is a copy of that post from August 29, 2006.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2006

Katrina and Bush, One Year Later

A year ago, Katrina hit New Orleans. Coincidentally, PoliticalArithmetik made its debut on Labor Day last year. As a result, I fell into an analysis of the ongoing effect of Katrina on President Bush’s approval ratings. Hadn’t planned for that, but then neither had FEMA.

With the anniversary of Katrina, there are lots of news stories offering a retrospective, so why not here as well.

You can read over the original Katrina analysis (and see if it stands the test of time!) here,
here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Now seems a good time to go back and reestimate the effects of Katrina with complete data, rather than as a moving target. As always, my model fits the impact of events on approval, including both a possible immediate shift in approval and a possible change in slope. With Katrina and the Miers/Libby fiasco, the effects were essentially shocks that changed the level of approval but didn’t shift the slope appreciably. Since then, the post Nov 11 rally, the winter decline, post-immigration speech rally and now post July 9 apparent stability, the slopes have shifted along with the level.

The figure above shows the plot of the fitted values for the linear model (in red) and for my usual trend estimator of approval (in blue). The blue trend is more flexible, but as is clear from the plot the linear fit is a good approximation of the non-linear trend. The linear model is a bit rough at points of change in direction, where it tends to overshoot the trend a bit. But for the crucial Katrina impact, the match between linear and non-linear trends is quite good.

The non-linear trend is actually worse at capturing sudden change points, so the blue trend appears to start down before Katrina hits. That is an artifact of how the trend is fit, and in this case the red linear model does a better job capturing Katrina’s effect.

The immediate impact of Katrina was a loss of 1.4 percentage points in President Bush’s job approval rating, based on a statistical analysis of all polls taken since 1/1/05. That doesn’t sound like much, but just prior to Katrina he was losing approval at a rate of 1 percentage point
each 32.6 days, so a loss of 1.4 points was the equivalent of 46 days of decline all in one moment. Or looked at another way, approval declined about 8 points from January 5 2005 until the end of August. It then dropped by 18% more following Katrina. (8 x .18 = 1.4).

By comparison, the impact of the Libby indictment and the Miers withdrawal (in the same week) was a further loss of 1.6 points, marking the low point of 2005 (almost– things started rebounding on Nov 11, a week or so later.)

Or a third take. Approval on 1/5/05 was 50.2%, based on my approval trend estimate. By 8/28/05 it had fallen to 42.2%. By 10/2/05, the day before the Miers nomination it had fallen to 41.2. By 11/11/05 it was 38.9%. (This comes from a different model so is a little different in the numerical details from the previous paragraph, though the basic point is the same– Katrina was bad, Miers/Libby was worse, probably because the latter hurt approval among Republicans more than did Katrina.)

So let’s not exaggerate, but Katrina was a substantial “hit” to approval after a decent summer in which the approval decline had flattened out a little bit (though not started back up) after a very poor winter and spring that included the failed social security reform.

My take on Katrina was that it kept the White House away from it’s agenda (if it had one at the time– from where I sit the focus seemed to drift after the social security defeat.) In any case, Katrina made the issue for the fall “incompetence” and “cronyism”, which was just reinforced and exacerbated by the inexplicable Miers nomination.

Only on November 11 and thereafter with the President’s renewed defense of his policies in Iraq, and a White House that seemed to stay on message for several weeks, did the decline reverse, with a considerable recovery by the end of the year. I think that the period after 11/11 was the first time that the White House seemed back in control of its affairs since giving up on social security reform.

Some of the perceived incompetence may still haunt the administration. Democrats don’t seem to be that successful making it a campaign issue, though. And so far we’ve not had a hurricane for FEMA to manage WELL this season. If there is one, and they do well, then the administration can point to “fixing the problem” in time for the elections. If it goes poorly, however…

Katrina established some negative expectations about FEMA in particular, Homeland Security in general, and the administration including the President himself. If it performs better than expected the next opportunity, then that might actually be a good thing for the administration. This hurricane season, coinciding with the fall campaign, presents both an opportunity and a peril in establishing whether the administration has in fact solved the problems at FEMA and Homeland Security and the “competence thing”.

 

 

New lows, but are they sticky?

Today produced two new lows for Trump approval, one in the normally Trump-friendly Rasmussen poll (above) and one in the normally less friendly Quinnipiac poll (below.)

I wrote on Twitter today about the Rasmussen drop before seeing the Quinnipiac result, but the central point is the same for both. “New lows” are often not sticky. A poll may hit the new low only to rebound a bit from that. If polls are subject to random noise (they are, due to random sampling and other reasons) then a “new low” may well just be a unusual bit of noise that will go away next time.  For this reason, before getting too excited (or upset) about “new lows” we should be skeptical until confirming evidence arrives, in the form of repeated lows by the same poll and by multiple polls showing the same trend. (This applies equally well when we see “new highs”.)

Here are my (lightly edited) comments from Twitter early this afternoon:

I wrote yesterday that polls often bounce back up a little after hitting “new lows”. Monday Rasmussen hit 39% Trump approval for 1st time. Then on Tuesday Rasmussen was unchanged at 39% Trump approval, not bouncing back up.

Now Wednesday, Rasmussen is at 38% Trump appoval, a second new low in 3 days, and the opposite of a bounce back up.

Meanwhile Gallup has read 37, 37 & today 36. Gallup has been in the 36-40 range since early June so these numbers are not “new” for them.

But Rasmussen has until now been consistently among the highest polls for Trump approval. (See first chart at the top of this post.) The decline is therefore striking.

I still expect Rasmussen to hit a low and bounce back up, but if Gallup should also break through 36 to 35 (registered once on 3/28) or below, we would have evidence that there is a genuine new low, not just a short-term bounce down.

Now that we have the new Quinnipiac poll in hand there is another piece of evidence. Quinnipiac’s new approval reading is at 33%, a new low for their poll.  But is this indicative of a drop in approval? It is certainly down from Quinnipiac’s previous poll which was at 40, but that one was actually a little high. Q-poll had previously been in the mid-30s. So the current 33, is a new low, but not one far from most of their previous polls.

As you can see in the chart below (repeated from above) the Quinnipiac polls averages 5.1 percentage points below my trend estimate as of the days the Q-polls have been completed. With a current trend estimate of 37.4, we’d expect the Q-poll to be at about 32.3, quite close to the 33 of the actual poll.

In contrast, Rasmussen averages +4.8 points ABOVE the trend. So their current 38% is very low for them. Based on past deviations from trend, we’d expect the Rasmussen poll to be closer to 42.2 than to 38. For this reason, I think the new low for Rasmussen is unlikely to persist. Why they have fallen so much more than would be expected given the overall trend is a bit of a mystery. It could be substantive. Rasmussen samples likely voters while most other pollsters are using adult voter or registered voter samples right now. Likely voters are more attentive to politics, so it is possible that greater attention has brought some decline among the Rasmussen respondents. But if so, why this week rather than last week, or the week before? The more circumspect evaluation is that for some reason the samples of the last three days have had an unusually strong negative view of Trump, and that as Rasmussen’s sample moves to new respondents, the overall approval will likely return to the usual +4.8 over trend, or thereabouts.

All that said, the approval trend accounting for all polls has declined a bit in recent days, to the current 37.4 that I calculate.  Real Clear Politics puts it at 38.4 approve and 56.9 disapprove while HuffPost/Pollster has it 37.5-58.4 and 538 is 37.0-57.5. There is a lot of agreement across our different methodologies, and all are showing a slight decline in the trend estimate in recent days.

It is always good to compare trends across pollsters, rather than only looking at one poll or only looking at the overall trend estimate. Here are Trump approval & disapproval trend comparisons across all pollsters with 2 or more polls since January.

Recent polling on transgender issues

There has been a moderate amount of polling on transgender discrimination and policy issues over the past year. Some questions focus on transgender people specifically while others include “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” people in the question.

I confess I was not aware of the range of items and typical responses, so I hope this provides some useful context for public opinion on issues related to transgender people. Unfortunately, I did not find any questions asked in the last year that specifically mention service in the armed forces.

Here are the complete question text, results, polling organization and survey dates for polls taken since August 2016. I do not repeat each of the PRRI results illustrated above.

 

Do you think each of the following has too much, too little, or neither too much nor too
little power and influence in Washington?…Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

27 Too much
35 Neither too much nor too little
37 Too little
* Don’t know
1 Refused
AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research June 8-June 11, 2017

In terms of policies governing public restrooms, do you think these policies should
require transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds with their birth
gender or should these policies allow transgender individuals to use the restroom that
corresponds with their gender identity?

48 Birth gender
45 Gender identity
7 No opinion
Gallup May 3-May 7, 2017

Do you think new civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination against lesbian,
gay, bisexual or transgender people, or not?

51 Yes, new laws needed
46 No, not needed
3 No opinion
Gallup May 3-May 7, 2017

Now thinking about professional sports teams, would you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or
strongly oppose a professional sports team signing a player who is transgender?

14 Strongly favor
44 Favor
24 Oppose
5 Strongly oppose
13 Unsure
Marist College March 22-March 27, 2017

Do you think public schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with the gender they identify with or don’t you think so?

48 Yes/Should
45 No/Should not
8 Don’t know/No answer
Quinnipiac University March 2-March 6, 2017

Do you think more acceptance of transgender people would be a good thing for the country, a bad thing for the country, or do you think that it would not make much difference either way?

41 Good thing
14 Bad thing
42 Not much difference
3 Don’t know/No answer
Quinnipiac University March 2-March 6, 2017

How accepting do you think the US is of transgender people today; very accepting, somewhat accepting, not so accepting, or not accepting at all?

12 Very accepting
51 Somewhat accepting
25 Not so accepting
8 Not accepting at all
4 Don’t know/No answer
Quinnipiac University March 2-March 6, 2017

Now thinking about the people that you know…Please tell me whether you have a close
friend or family member who is…transgender?

21 Yes
77 No
2 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

Just your impression, in the United States today, is there a lot of discrimination
against…transgender people, or not?

64 Yes, there is a lot of discrimination
30 No, not a lot of discrimination
6 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose or strongly oppose…laws that require transgender
individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth rather than their
current gender identity?

19 Strongly favor
20 Favor
22 Oppose
31 Strongly oppose
8 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose or strongly oppose…laws that would protect gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public
accommodations, and housing?

42 Strongly favor
28 Favor
11 Oppose
15 Strongly oppose
5 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

Now, as I read some statements on a few different topics, please tell me if you completely
agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree or completely disagree with each one….Bullying of
gay, lesbian, and transgender teenagers is a major problem in our schools…Do you
completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree or completely disagree?

35 Completely agree
30 Mostly agree
18 Mostly disagree
11 Completely disagree
6 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

Now, as I read some statements on a few different topics, please tell me if you completely
agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree or completely disagree with each one….Legal
protections that apply to gay and lesbian people should also apply to transgender
people…Do you completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree or completely disagree?

43 Completely agree
30 Mostly agree
10 Mostly disagree
12 Completely disagree
5 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

How familiar are you with the term transgender? Do you know what this term means, have you heard of it but are not sure what it means, or have you never heard of the term
transgender before?

84 Know what the term means
11 Heard of it but not sure what it means
5 Never heard of the term before
* Don’t know/Refused
PRRI February 10-February 19, 2017

Below are 10 news stories from 2016. For each one, please indicate how important that
story was to you personally….Extremely important, very important, somewhat important,
not too important, not at all important…North Carolina enacts law curbing LGBT
(lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) rights and transgender bathroom access, provoking
economic and political backlash

17 Extremely important
21 Very important
29 Somewhat important
17 Not too important
14 Not at all important
2 Refused/Unanswered
GfK Roper December 9-December 11, 2016

Which of these describes you well?…Supporter of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) people

45% Selected
55% Not selected
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, October 25-November 8, 2016

(Half sample, ask:) As you may know, recent stories in the news have highlighted a debate
over the use of public restrooms by transgender individuals–such as people who now
identify and live as females but were born male. Some argue that transgender people should be allowed to use the public restrooms of the gender with which they currently identify. Others argue that transgender people should be required to use the public restrooms of the gender they were born into. We’re interested in your views about this situation.

(Half sample, ask:) As you may know, recent stories in the news have highlighted a debate
over the use of public restrooms by transgender individuals–such as people who now
identify and live as males but were born female. Some argue that transgender people should be allowed to use the public restrooms of the gender with which they currently identify. Others argue that transgender people should be required to use the public restrooms of the gender they were born into. We’re interested in your views about this situation.)…

And if you had to choose, which comes closest to your view? Transgender people should be allowed to use the public restrooms of the gender with which they currently identify,
required to use the public restrooms of the gender they were born into

51 Allowed to use the public restrooms of the gender with which they currently identify
46 Required to use the public restrooms of the gender they were born into
3 No answer
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, August 16-September 12, 2016

Do you personally know anyone who is transgender, or not?

30 Yes, I know someone who is transgender
68 No, I do not
2 No answer
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, August 16-September 12, 2016

Now, we would like to get your views on some issues that are being discussed in the
country today. Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose…laws that would
protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs,
public accommodations, and housing?

38 Strongly favor
34 Favor
13 Oppose
10 Strongly oppose
5 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI August 10-August 16, 2016

Now, we would like to get your views on some issues that are being discussed in the
country today. Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose…laws that
require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth
rather than their current gender identity?

15 Strongly favor
20 Favor
23 Oppose
30 Strongly oppose
12 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI August 10-August 16, 2016

Do you think…the Republican Party is very friendly, somewhat friendly, somewhat
unfriendly, or very unfriendly toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people?

7 Very friendly
26 Somewhat friendly
25 Somewhat unfriendly
26 Very unfriendly
16 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI August 10-August 16, 2016

Do you think…the Democratic Party is very friendly, somewhat friendly, somewhat
unfriendly, or very unfriendly toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people?

38 Very friendly
35 Somewhat friendly
7 Somewhat unfriendly
6 Very unfriendly
14 Don’t know/Refused
PRRI August 10-August 16, 2016