To the Extent that Polls are Relevant….

… I’m trying to figure out exactly how to react to this headline, “Obama’s Approval Rating on Deficit Sinks to New Low.”

The headline isn’t wrong: President Obama’s approval rating on the budget deficit has fallen. On the other hand, nearly every other trend line goes up. The Gallup article in question says as much, as does another poll released today from Zogby. So, which is the story? Technically, I suppose, if all other metrics are trending up at a consistent rate, that’s not news: he’s been doing better since the SOTU. Not news, that is, if you think in terms of moment-to-moment politics.

But in terms of the overall two-year average, its the numbers that are improving that are the news: his approval ratings hit the skids almost immediately from taking office. That the general trend is in the opposite direction seems more relevant when you look at the whole picture.

I don’t really think poll numbers are relevant, except to the extent that they get used as cudgels in political fights. Unfortunately, everything these days is a political fight – right down to ICBM treaties with Russia – so the political damage of skewed headlines cannot be entirely discounted. But, they got my dumb ass to click on the link, so I suppose if the goal was CTR and not FYI, that’s game-set-match.