Obama Tenure Elicits Positive Feelings and Disappointment

President Obama prepares to leave the White House with a positive favorability rating, but a trail of disappointment over what he failed to accomplish in his two terms in the White House.

President Obama prepares to leave the White House with a positive favorability rating, but a trail of disappointment over what he failed to accomplish in his two terms in the White House.

Barack Obama departs the White House with positive favorability ratings, but also a trail of disappointment over what he failed to accomplished during his two terms as presidents.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey conducted after the 2016 elections shows Obama with a 57 percent favorability rating, which is the same as Bill Clinton and far higher than George W. Bush when their second terms ended.

However, two-thirds of respondents say Obama didn’t deliver on his promises to unify the country and make progressive changes. According to the survey, even Obama supporters expressed frustration at the lack of progress on immigration, gun control and shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Nearly eight out of 10 African-Americans view Obama’s presidency favorably, but they also voice frustration at the failure to improve the lot in life for blacks. Almost half said there was no difference and 6 percent said Obama made things worse.

Not surprisingly, partisan views of Obama and his presidential legacy are sharply divided. Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats view Obama favorably, while eight of 10 Republicans don’t. Independents are roughly divided.

Obama will reflect on his own legacy and point to the future he wants to see in his farewell speech tonight. He is likely to recall the economic hole he inherited upon taking office, the actions he was forced to take and the resulting drop in unemployment with 75 straight months of job growth. The AP-NORC poll shows just about 40 percent of respondents view themselves as better off after Obama’s eight years in office, 25 percent view themselves as worse off and a third say there hasn’t been much change.

One of Obama’s signature achievements, the Affordable Care Act, now faces a GOP-controlled Congress eager to repeal it, despite Obama’s pleas to fix what isn’t working instead of starting over. Other polling has shown that repeal of Obamacare may not be as popular as once thought and a nonpartisan study has projected that repeal without an adequate replacement could be a job-killer. 

Data in Context More Valuable Than Just Numbers

Add critical and creative thinking to your review of data so you see the context, not just the numbers.

Add critical and creative thinking to your review of data so you see the context, not just the numbers.

Jay Acunzo says you should act more like Galileo and less like Aristotle when it comes to evaluating data. Hint: He means pay more attention to specific context than generalities derived from data.

Aristotle was interested in finding the absolute essence of something, Acunzo writes in his LinkedIn article titled, “Executives Are in Love with the Wrong Kind of Data.” Galileo was interested in isolating single variables to test for validity.

Jay Acunzo is a marketer and host of the Unthinkable podcast, which explores the value of intuition to success.

Jay Acunzo is a marketer and host of the Unthinkable podcast, which explores the value of intuition to success.

In the world of marketing, Acunzo says this means spending less time on relying on experts to determine “THE campaign” or “THE tactics,” and more time on learning about what makes an opportunity unique or even possible. That, he claims, requires “critical and creative thinking.”

“Because we can measure everything, we aim to be data-driven,” Acunzo says. “But even that term brings to mind a humanoid spreadsheet whipping us forward. We are driven forward by data that comes from the past. And more than ever before, today looks way different than yesterday, and tomorrow will be nothing like the present.”

“We might be able to generally the world [through data] and get some results,” he explains, “but we’ve stripped out the specific context of these people, these customers and this moment in time.”

There is a big difference between reading data and learning by asking specific questions of the audience you are trying to reach. Success comes, Acunzo says, “by acting as constant learners who ask the right questions, not experts who profess to know the answer.”

Santa Biggest Loser in 2016 Election

 Elections produce winners and losers, and the biggest loser from the 2016 election may have been Santa, who has become less believable even though he wasn’t on the ballot.

 Elections produce winners and losers, and the biggest loser from the 2016 election may have been Santa, who has become less believable even though he wasn’t on the ballot.

There are always winners and losers in elections, but the biggest loser in the 2016 election seems to be Santa Claus.

Public Policy Polling says 59 percent of Americans lost their belief in jovial St. Nick following the 2016 election. That contrast with 2012 when only 45 percent of Americans denied Santa existed.

Dean Debnam of Public Policy Polling said Santa defections stretched across the political spectrum. “Everyone is feeling a little bit less hope and joy after this year.”

The poll, which was conducted earlier this month and included 1,229 respondents, produced some other “findings” worth noting in the holiday season:

  • Seventy percent of respondents believed they were on Santa’s “Nice List” and only 8 percent thought they were on the “Naughty List.”
  • Only 35 percent said President-elect Donald Trump was on Santa’s “Nice List;” 48 percent believed he was on the “Naughty List.”
  • Only 34 percent of respondents think there is a War on Christmas and 51 percent don’t believe there is such a war.
  • Almost 70 percent of Trump supporters prefer “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” as a seasonal greeting; 63 percent of Clinton supporters said they didn’t care which greeting is used.

Santa can take some consolation in that public opinion polling took its own hit in the election, with fewer people believing in the authenticity of political polls. Maybe the key is not to take some things too seriously.

Schools Miss Opportunity to Engage Parents

Schools miss out big time by failing to engage parents through regular survey research – and providing feedback from surveys when parents are asked for their views.

Schools miss out big time by failing to engage parents through regular survey research – and providing feedback from surveys when parents are asked for their views.

Parents are among the biggest boosters of schools, but a Gallup survey suggests school officials are missing the boat by failing to engage with more parents. CFM’s research confirms that conclusion.

Gallup found only 32 percent of parents said they have participated in surveys commissioned by their local schools. Less than half of parents who participated in surveys received any feedback on survey results.

The missed opportunity Gallup has identified goes beyond the absence of a rich interchange of information between parents and school officials. Gallup findings indicate that “silent parents – those who do not take advantage of opportunities to participate in the research – are twice as likely to be actively disengaged with their child’s school.”

Disengaged parents, the research shows, are more open to transferring their children to other schools and voice concerns about the quality of their local schools.

According to Gallup, “Research suggests that great schools put in the effort to measure parent engagement on an ongoing basis and make intelligent, data-backed decisions based on the insights from parent surveys. Further, measuring engagement creates opportunities for schools leads and parents to review the study findings and collaborate on a path to school improvement.”

Conducting surveys and designing community engagement programs for school districts are a significant part of CFM Research Partner Tom Eiland’s practice.

“We encourage schools to engage their communities, especially the parents of children attending school. School districts that know what their constituencies think and understand how to communicate to parents and those without children in school is critical to their ability to move forward with any decision-making including levies for operations, bonds for new or remodeled facilities, boundary changes and changes to curriculum.”

School districts in Oregon and Washington that have retained Eiland to conduct community assessments or surveys about specific levies and bond measures have a solid track record of success. During the past three years, school districts have relied on CFM research to get voter approval for more than $1 billion in bond and levy financing

The benefit of engagement goes beyond winning an election. “School leaders that listen, share what they hear and collaborate with constituents on improvements are the leaders of school districts with positive reputations in their communities,” Eiland said. “Engagement isn’t just a tool to win a vote. It becomes part of a district’s culture.”

A Political Poll That Hit the Mark

While most political polls predicted a Clinton victory, the USC/Los Angeles Times tracking poll, which used different kinds of questions and engaged the same poll of respondents, called the race accurately.

While most political polls predicted a Clinton victory, the USC/Los Angeles Times tracking poll, which used different kinds of questions and engaged the same poll of respondents, called the race accurately.

Political polling has taken another lick this election, but one poll predicted the outcome accurately, using techniques pollsters often diss.

The USC/Los Angeles Times tracking poll showed Donald Trump gaining momentum heading into the election, which contradicted the prevailing polling that showed the race tightening, but breaking in Hillary Clinton’s direction.

The tracking poll technology used in the 2016 election wasn’t experimental or new. It has been employed in 2012 on behalf of RAND Corp. and accurately projected president Obama’s re-election.

The two techniques that distinguished the USC/LA Times tracking poll were:

  • Respondents were asked on a 0-to-100 scale how likely they were to vote for a particular candidate; and
  • Respondents were part of 3,200-person panel, not randomly selected each time a survey was conducted.

“Lots of people don’t know for sure how they’re going to vote,” the LA Times reported about the polling technique. “Forcing them to choose before they are ready can distort what they’re thinking. Asking people to estimate the probability of voting for one of the other captures their ambivalence more accurately. Asking people to estimate their chance of voting allows us to factor in information everyone in the sample.”

Here is the punchline that may explain why traditional surveys missed the Trump surge that carried him to victory. “By contrast, polls that used a likely-voter screen can miss a lot of people who won’t meet the likely-voter test, but who in the end really do vote.”

Using a panel rather than a freshly selected random sample for each survey is a tried-and-true market research practice, but less common in public opinion polling. Its advantage is that survey is tracking the evolving views of the same people.

The USC/LA Times tracking poll culled 450 people daily from the larger panel and conducted a survey. Respondents were given up to seven days to respond. “Each day, we post results that are an average of the previous seven days of responses,” according to the LA Times. “Between those two factors – people taking up to seven days to respond and averaging seven days of result – the impact of an event might not be completed reflected in the poll for as long as two weeks."

“One of the problems polls face is that sometimes partisans on one side are more enthusiastic about responding to questions than those on the other side,” the LA Times explained. “Maybe their candidate has a particularly good week or the opposing candidate has had a bad one. When that happens, polls can suddenly shift simply because of who is willing to respond to a pollster’s call, which is called differential response.”

“Using a panel of the same people,” the newspaper added, “can ensure that when the poll results change, the shift reflects individuals changing their minds."