Poll figures on how the Rapture would have affected the Republican presidential field

Even as the news cycle winds down on Harold Camping and his prediction about the Rapture, Public Policy Polling (PPP) digs through some data to determine how the Rapture would have affected the field of Republican presidential candidates:

First off- no one really believed the Rapture was going to happen last weekend, or at least they won’t admit it. Just 2% of voters say they thought that was coming on Saturday to 98% who say they did not. It’s really close to impossible to ask a question on a poll that only 2% of people say yes to. A national poll we did in September 2009 found that 10% of voters thought Barack Obama was the Anti-Christ, or at least said they thought so. That 2% number is remarkably low.

11% of voters though think the Rapture will occur in their lifetimes, even if it didn’t happen last weekend. 66% think it will not happen and 23% are unsure. If the true believers who think the Rapture will happen in their lifetime are correct- and they’re the ones who had the strongest enough faith to get taken up into heaven- then that’s going to be worth a 2-5 point boost to Obama’s reelection prospects. That’s because while only 6% of independents and 10% of Democrats think the Rapture will happen during their lifetime, 16% of Republicans do. We always talk about demographic change helping Democrats with the rise of the Hispanic vote, but if the Rapture occurs it would be an even more immediate boost to Democratic electoral prospects.

Obama’s lead over Romney is 7 points with all voters, but if you take out the ones who think the Rapture will occur in their lifetime his advantage increases to 9 points. That’s because the Rapture voters support Romney by a 49-35 margin. Against Gingrich Obama’s 14 point lead overall becomes a 17 point one if you take out take the ‘Rapturers’ because they support Gingrich 50-37. And Obama’s 17 point lead over Palin becomes a 22 point spread without those voters because they support Palin 54-37.

Palin is the only person we tested on this poll who is actually popular with people who think the Rapture is going to happen. She has a 53/38 favorability with them, compared to 33/41 for Romney, 26/48 for Gingrich, and a 31/58 approval for Obama. Palin’s problem is that her favorability with everyone who doesn’t think the Rapture will happen is 27/66.

What a great way to combine two of the media’s recent fascinations. I would guess PPP put this poll together solely to take advantage of this news cycle. Should we conclude that Democrats should have wished the Rapture to actually happen to improve their political chances?

Of course, all of this data should be taken with a grain of salt as only 2% of the voters believed the Rapture was going to happen this past weekend and 11% believe it will happen in their lifetimes. These small numbers are out of a total sample of 600 people, meaning that about 12 people thought the Rapture would happen on Saturday and about 66 thought it would happen while they are alive. And this is all with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, suggesting all of these numbers could be really, really small and not generalizable.

Do polls/surveys like these help contribute to giving all polls/surveys a bad reputation?

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