KRUGMAN WATCH

In his most recent column, Paul Krugman wrote the following sentence: “Mr. Bush’s approval ratings have plunged over the last two months.” Krugman’s an economist; he knows numbers. Is this statement true? Here’s a collection of recent polls of Bush’s job approval rating, cited by Krugman himself on his own website (the one where he admits to errors in order to avoid fessing up to them in the Times itself.) The data? In the last two months, Bush’s approval rating has declined from 66 – 62 percent (ABC News, margin of error 3.5 percent); from 63 to 57 percent (Zogby, no margin of error cited); from 64 to 60 percent (Gallup); from 60 to 55 percent (Newsweek, margin of error 3 percent) … well, you get the picture. Some polls show a steeper decline – NBC News’ poll shows a slip from 62 to 54. But if you average it all out, the drop is probably around 3 – 4 percent from low 60s to high 50s – still in the region of an electoral landslide, and in line with the months before. The dictionary definition of a “plunge” is “to descend steeply; fall precipitously; to move forward and downward violently; to become suddenly lower; decrease dramatically.” The column headline? “Credibility Problems.” Yep. He got that right. (With thanks to Don Luskin.)

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