For a few days, it looked as though maybe MSNBC's First Read - written in part by NBC's political director Elizabeth Wilner - was being more careful with their poll numbers. Then, from today:
The New York Daily News says the same CNN poll showing Bush's approval at 32% also notes that 69% "said gas prices were causing them severe financial hardship."
Well, they quoted the Daily News accurately enough:
Sixty-nine percent of Americans in the CNN poll said gas prices were causing them severe financial hardship.
Take a look, though, at the actual poll. Forty-Six percent say gas prices have caused "moderate hardship," while only 23% say "severe hardship."
In effect, both the Daily News and Ms. Wilner triple the number of people reporting "severe hardship". At least it wasn't their own poll they got wrong this time.
Meanwhile, First Read, now posting throughout the day, fails to mention today's buoyant consumer confidence numbers, which would tend to contradict the claim the gas prices are forcing people to take second jobs.
So why the discrepancy? Probably because gas prices are the one price that everyone knows, because it's posted on every street corner in America. As you drive by the sign, you're literally coming closer to having to pay that price. Gas prices are a lower percentage of total household expense than ever, but gas consumption is something that usually takes some major change to affect. So any change in price gouges into that always-thin margin between the red and the black.
I realize that First Read is primarily political, not economics, but they're clearly letting their political biases get in the way of their economic fact-checking.